Following our story on reviving ferries as a backbone for Hong Kong transport last week, we decided to field test some of the connections between the Central Ferry Piers and Wan Chai by bike.
This would be a fairly typical commute for island dwellers, yet it’s not easy by bike. In fact, there’s only one legal way out of the ferry pier reclamation area and it involves cycling on a wide, fast highway, going east. To cycle west from a Central pier requires either walking the bike across a footbridge, or illegally using the “no cycling” underpass beneath IFC mall to join Connaught Road West westbound.
Our quickest and most direct route to a Wan Chai office (Tai Yau Building on Johnston Road) took just 6 minutes 23 seconds from the Lamma Ferry Pier, faster than MTR, bus, motorbike, private car, taxi, Uber, walking or even the world record 2km running pace – but this nifty 2.7km route used the underpass under Tamar Park and a short bridge over Gloucester Road, which are both marked off-limits to bicycles. Taking this into account and instead going via the highways added around 40% to the time (nearly 9 minutes in total – still faster than any other form transport apart from motorbike) and distance (to 3.7 km, an extra kilometre). The “legal” route was also quite unpleasant, with many traffic lights, away from the seafront, and crossing several very fast-moving highways.
In 2017, the government said it planned to remove the “no cycling” signs on 16 of the 340 prohibited bridges and overpasses in the city, after after a four-year review that included a consultant’s consideration of 105 likely locations. However, to date, not one sign has been removed, according to sources, with lawmakers and cycling concern groups complaining last year that the government’s work was too slow.