I read somewhere that the Cycling Alliance of Hong Kong ( a very very active vocal grass root group pushing for the rights of cyclist) tabled on the idea of bicycle lanes to the parliament in 2008. Unfortunately, the idea was turned down and the pilot study of bicycle infra was started in new territory area. Well, particularly northern new territories, Sha Tin to Tai Po district. I do agree in some aspects that if we are juggling both transportation efficiency and road safety as well as commercial movement interest, the current train, bus and tram network in the CBD served the public transportation sufficiently. Having a bicycle lane across the CBD will be a burden to the scarcity of land spaces and never forget, priority is to be given to pedestrians.
So i was in Hong Kong for a few days with an impromptu itinerary in mind, one of it is getting out from the city and see the sub urban side of Hong Kong. And yes i do have the interest to explore bicycle lanes and somewhat believe on the need for more online literature for bicycle infrastructures. Previously i have wrote about Hong Kong’s Kowloon Bay Bicycle Park, Sabah’s Tanjung Aru Bicycle lane, Penang’s Jalan C Y Choy bicycle bridge.. Ara Damansara’s epic failed bicycle lane… and can’t wait to write more about KL’s latest South West Bicycle lane as well as dozen of other references from Singapore (well best practices of course). The Sha Tin to Tai Po lane is estimated at around 15km of waterfront lane, however there is also another phase towards the North, from Tai Po continue on to Tai Mei Tuk (around 12km). It was a rainy season so you can expect a very wet condition from the pictures i took, but it’s also a good way of evaluating if there is any water ponding along the lane (which hardly was!)
There were very few cyclist however, as a i scroll through towards North. I can only suspect due to the weather, or the bicycle infra network just serves as a secondary option as bus system is already so well connected. As we all know, bicycle lanes are primarily existed for the purpose of last mile journey or nearby commuting (<3km radius). Below is a picture from discoverhongkong website which elaborates the highlights destination along the waterfront lane.
By far, this is the best bicycle lane i have rode. Generally, simply due to the entire stretch of the lane seems to be an independent lane of its own (not mixed with pedestrian) and away from traffic pollution. Surprisingly, they have the allowance of the space sufficiently for usage hierarchy such as shop front space, then pedestrian walkway, then bicycle lane, then traffic roads. It is always thought for slow traffic we can just use road kerb or bollards to demarcate the bike lane, but this is quite generous for a place like Hong Kong.
One thing that i have respect much for this lane is the clear initiative taken to manage the intersection spaces between pedestrian and cyclist. One can use bollards and different color demarcation (in this case) , or even different level of road to demarcate the intersection nodes such as illustrated below. Also note the sufficient signage, which is quite universal as well, showing it’s a purpose built lane, rather mixed usage. Do note that the drain grating cover also has a very narrow gaps that will not trap any wheels in.
To further emphasize, aside from the intersection nodes, is the universal signage as you can see below. Such as, area to dismount your bike.. separated lane etc.
As mentioned, the bicycle lane is well separated from the pedestrian lanes. Noting from the top left picture, having different (irregular) road surface is also one strategy to discourage cyclist to ride on it, rather than having a kerb or fencing as sometimes bike commuters will stop by any shopfront. It is also interesting to note on some lanes having double line and some dash line, wonder if that is the same as cars, demarcating allowance to cut through the front cyclist or not.
Never forgetting, bicycle parking is no rocket science too. Just a simple sheltered galvanized steel bar that enable bike to learn and various corner to allow the user to secure the bike in any way it could be, will do.
Signage on the road again is interesting! Words such as slow, end, etc.
I did not manage to cycle the entire waterfront bicycle lane stretch. However, here’s a very generous bicycle lane crossing bridge!
One of my favorite picture, well reflecting on the respect for pedestrians, cyclist, and for the fact, both of them separated from cars etc. There’s even a signage asking for “single file lane”.
Always wonder when will it be the time that Malaysia or KL have a proper bicycle lane as illustrated here. Again, i do not belittle the big effort by the local authority in having built some bicycle lanes. But, based on my observation for bicycle lanes implementation locally so far, bicycle lane is no rocket science, but there is a huge challenge in bridging the knowledge, communication and expectation gaps between the designer (engineer and architects), the local authority, and the client. Things like water ponding, irregular surface, connectivity, smoothness of ride, is something i still find being a struggle.
I have uploaded more pictures in my public enabled facebook album below (just click the image). Tell me what do you think about the bicycle lane and if you have tried it!