Cyclists are fuming at the government’s hardened stance on bicycle parking, seen in a draft of Hong Kong’s new Road Users’ Code gazetted Friday.
Under existing law, and as outlined in the 2000 Road Users’ Code, cyclists can park bikes on urban streets it doesn’t block the way or cause danger.
But the new guidelines attempt to restrict on-street bicycle parking to only brief accompanied stops, while also stressing bike users should not use public bike parking for more than 24 hours at a time.
Public parking spots for bikes are scarce outside of the New Territories. On Hong Kong Island, for example, there are only 86 official bike spaces for a population of 1.3 million people. Kwun Tong and Wong Tai Sin have none. Under the new Road Users’ Code, urban cyclists parking anywhere but private property will risk having their bikes seized in clearance operations.
A Transport Department (TD) spokeswoman said the new rules “enriched” the advice for cyclists by differentiating parking from brief rest stops. Cyclists, she said, were still allowed to stop with their bicycles “when exhausted, for a short period of time, which means that the bicycles will no longer be in motion and need to be put somewhere.” In such cases of sudden exhaustion, bicycles may be put on a pavement, footpath or verge on the condition it doesn’t cause any danger.
“Leaving of bicycles in this situation is a realistic and reasonable need,” said the spokeswoman.
“However, if the cycles are left unattended, or in such a way that cause danger or obstruction to other road users, the relevant departments will conduct clearance operations and take enforcement action as appropriate.
Martin Turner, chairman of Hong Kong Cycling Alliance 香港單車同盟 (HKCAll), said the new code “completely misrepresents the parking law, Cap 374C, to say you can only pause briefly at the side of the road.”
Turner says the change was a surprise to his organisation, which was consulted on the new Code in 2009 and again in 2017. “In the 2017 draft they sent us, they deleted the ‘brief stop’ parking advice entirely – now they have not only kept it but twisted it to mean something the law does not say.”
“The new wording looks like an attempt to justify the endless seizures of harmlessly parked bikes,” he says.
Many cyclists have found their bikes – reasonably parked under 374C – seized and destroyed or auctioned under bike clearances, a process Turner says is “a stinking attack on everyone who uses bikes, misapplying unrelated laws and ignoring the very clear statute that governs parking”.
In 2019, the Government conducted 376 clearance operations against illegally parked bicycles, seizing 14,846 bicycles, an average of 40 per day.