LCQ11: Promoting the development of new sports

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Che-cheung and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (December 13):


     It has been reported that push bikes (also known as balance bikes), a kind of pedal-less and brake-less bicycle for small children which are quite popular in Europe and America, have been introduced into Hong Kong in recent years. Quite a number of parents consider it safer to ride balance bikes than ordinary bicycles due to their slower travelling speeds and are therefore happy to accompany their children in riding balance bikes. However, a number of residents have recently relayed to me that small children riding balance bikes in recreation and sports venues where cycling is allowed, which are under the management of government departments such as the Home Affairs Department, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Housing Department, are often stopped by venue attendants, but after intervention by District Council members, such activity is allowed in some of the venues. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the rules or guidelines made by the authorities on riding balance bikes and using other wheeled sports equipment in various public recreation and sports venues; if riding balance bikes is forbidden in such venues, of the reasons for that;

(2) whether the authorities will study the provision of dedicated venues for balance bike riding; if not, of the reasons for that;

(3) as some members of the public have relayed that the utilisation rates of the existing public roller skating rinks are low because roller skating is no longer popular, whether the authorities regularly reviewed in the past three years the utilisation of the various public recreation and sports venues and the rules on their use, and provide suitable recreation and sports venues in tandem with the rise and decline of various types of sports;

(4) as some members of the public have relayed that since balance bike riding is a new sport, they can hardly take out third party risks insurance as required by the terms and conditions of hire of public recreation and sports venues, whether the authorities will provide assistance in this respect to encourage the development of balance bike riding and other new sports; if so, of the details; and

(5) whether the authorities will consider launching a trial/pilot scheme to open up the recreation and sports venues of public schools outside school hours for public use so as to help solve the problem of insufficient recreation and sports venues in local districts, thereby promoting the development of new sports?



     My reply to the five parts of the question is as follows:
(1) and (2) Most of the venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) can be used for various purposes to accommodate different sports and activities.  Currently, different types of cycling facilities are provided for various cycling activities in 24 leisure venues of LCSD.  Among the venues, 16 are available for balance bike riding.  As the remaining eight cycling facilities require users to possess a certain level of skills, they are not suitable for balance bike riding.

     At present, LCSD has not established rules or guidelines specially for riding balance bikes, nor has any plan to provide dedicated venues for balance bike riding.

(3) To dovetail with sports development and meet the needs of the public, LCSD reviews from time to time the usage and the relevant conditions for use of its facilities and closely monitors the needs of the public.  The roller skating rinks of LCSD are non-fee-charging leisure venues used by the public for roller skating from time to time.  LCSD will, taking into account the actual situation, consider making individual venues with lower utilisation available for booking by the public for other activities or altering the use of facilities for other sports and recreational purposes as and when required.

(4) Members of the public who ride balance bikes in venues available for balance bike riding under the management of LCSD are not required to take out third party liability insurance.  Organisations which book other leisure venues of LCSD for balance bike riding are required to take out third party liability insurance in accordance with the LCSD's requirements for application for non-designated use of leisure venues so as to offer basic protection to the organisers.

(5) It has been the Government's policy to encourage schools to open up their school facilities and hire out their school premises to social organisations as a means to foster collaboration between schools and the community.

     Starting from the 2017/18 school year, the Education Bureau (EDB) and the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) jointly launched the Opening up School Facilities for Promotion of Sports Development Scheme (the Scheme), to further encourage public sector schools to open up their school facilities during leisure time to sports associations for organising sports activities, with a view to promoting a sporting culture in schools, encouraging students to develop a healthy sporting habit, and helping promote sports development.  These sports activities are generally open for members of the public.

     Since the implementation of the Scheme in the 2017/18 school year, about 30 squad training programmes, young athletes training programmes and district sports activities have been conducted in 11 schools.  EDB is currently inviting schools to submit the second round applications for this school year to encourage more schools to participate in the Scheme.  Besides, EDB and HAB will collect views from participating schools and sports associations to further enhance the Scheme.

Ends/Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Issued at HKT 11:34