Monday, August 19, 2013

Hong Kong NW Territory Cycling Infrastructure

I was expecting to see good cycling infrastructure while visiting China. I'd read a few stories highlighting how the status of the bicycle has fallen quite a bit in the past years and how cycling is not considered as a sport. Clearly, there is considerable status in having a car much as it is in the U.S. and on warm summer days in Hong Kong, I understand the usefulness of air conditioning. This post hopes to share the good and bad of Hong Kong cycling infrastructure.

One of the observed problems (which I will cover in more details later) is behavior of cyclists, but that's party a response to the lack of comfort they feel while using the facilities. It is partly due to conflicts from the other users of the streets, but also from the infrastructure provided. I liked the succinct comment I found with a quick search at  "44 percent of people in Beijing use their cars to travel distances of less than 5 kilometres. Most of these journeys could be made on a bicycle. So creating an environment to enable this social change is vital. 
Duan Liren, a traffic consultant for Beijing municipal government, says first and foremost Chinese road users need to understand the concept of Right of Way on bicycle. "If a thief steals 100 yuan, you know it's illegal. Actually this is as wrong as a vehicle driving in a bicycle lane." 
2-way Cycletracks were provided on many of the streets we were on.
At intersections, they use bollards to slow traffic to insure yielding.
As much as right of way and behavior is important, quality infrastructure is critical for people that want to use the facilities that are built. This post is a summary of some cycletrack elements we saw in the Northwest Territory of Hong Kong. In general, the City seems heavily influenced by British traffic (driving) standards and much like I have seen in London, most of the cycling infrastructure was not present on many of the major streets. London is making major strides to change that by committing to a new plan just this past March.  It's not just London that is making bold steps, but cities like New York City among others in the U.S., yet similarly there there are occasional challenges to this new infrastructure.

A weekend mountain biker weaves through the cars that are parked near the bollards.
Bollards at the intersections made it impossible to cycle side by side
with another person continuously. 
During our tour from a local we got to see some of the urban infrastructure. The visit and cycling tour in the NW Territory was a good opportunity to experience the infrastructure from a local's perspective.    The tour guide gave us a troup of the area nearby his home and then out into the “Wetlands, New Towns & Heritage Trails”.
The bollards took varioius form. In order to keep cars out of the facility, signs were placed
at numerous locations even at some locations is might have been unnecessary. 
A private driveway introduced a curve which made this intersection difficult to traverse, especially for a younger rider that may not be as confident on their bike.  

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