Google has now removed prohibited Mui Wo roads from its driving directions after a Transit Jam investigation found the service was sending car drivers on illegal shortcuts through villages.
After searching for driving routes between various Mui Wo points, Google’s directions sent drivers through every one of the town’s “vehicle prohibited” road signs. The Google service also sent drivers along the Emergency Vehicle Access (EVA) road, which is designed only for emergency services only.
Google said it has removed the illegal directions and updated its database. “While we always try to provide the best directions, it’s possible that incorrect data or other errors may result in bad directions at times. We encourage users to follow local laws, stay attentive, and use their best judgment while driving,” Google said in response to enquiries.
Earlier this month, Transit Jam found police take a light touch approach to enforcing the traffic laws in Mui Wo.
Residents have complained that more drivers are using the EVA as a regular road and ignoring the “no entry” signs, not only blocking emergency vehicle access with illegal parking but also endangering pedestrians and cyclists using the paths.
But other residents say they have the moral right to use the EVA, after the government promised them a proper road in exchange for ancestral land. One, who says his family has lived in Mui Wo for over 100 years, says his family was cheated by the government, and that the police dared not give him a ticket for driving in the exclusionary zones.
Police say they “work with the local community”.
“Lantau District is committed to protecting public safety, and officers closely monitor the traffic and parking situation in Mui Wo. Daily operations are conducted and residents and vehicle owners alike are routinely advised not to obstruct emergency vehicle access,” said a police spokesperson.
“Traffic management is not only measured by the number of summons or fixed penalty tickets issued. Seeking to change irresponsible behaviour through communication is also considered to be a key activity,” they said.