Police in Yuen Long ticketed 68 cyclists earlier this week for non-compliance with “cyclists dismount” signs and other offences such as riding on the pavement or riding without proper lights.
Cops mounted a three-day campaign aimed specifically at cyclists, citing a high number of cycle crashes in the area. According to police figures, there were 370 crashes involving bicycles in the district in the first nine months of the year, with 374 people injured and three dead as a result. Around one in four traffic crashes in the district involve bicycles.
In 2015, activist Ho Loy had a similar traffic conviction overturned when a High Court judge found the “cyclists dismount” sign to be “ambigious, unclear and confusing”. Transport Department fought the case but was refused leave to appeal by the High Court.
Many campaigners and users have since blamed the disjointed cycle network for road safety issues, claiming it is unfeasible to ask cyclists to dismount every few yards as is common on many of the New Territories cycle tracks.
In November last year, DAB lawmaker Luk Chung-hung said newly opened New Territories cycle tracks showed “incomprehensible planning” and “disjointed” networks.
Last year, Martin Turner, Chairman of the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance (HKCAll), criticised what the HKCAll called the government’s “failure to deliver a continuous route that it committed to in 2008, free of dicontinunuities and unncessary dismount requirements”.
An Audit Commission investigation in 2014 found that, if the “dismount” signs were followed, cyclists needed to dismount 105 times during their ride along the 45.6-km cycle track in Yuen Long. Audit Commission then recommended minimisation of these zones along existing tracks and for new track planning.
In an interview with Transit Jam‘s RTHK radio show Wham Bam Tram, Gay Games 11 Hong Kong 2022 chairman Dennis Philipse said he found it hard to believe the New Territories cycle track had so many dismount points.
“When there is a crossing with the road, that is the end of the cycle track, which is ridiculous because it means you need to step off your cycle, walk three steps and then jump on your bicycle again. Somebody should say this whole track, the prime target, the prime focus, will be cycles,” he said, as part of a broader discussion on sport in Hong Kong.
A new stretch of cycle track in Tsuen Wan is trialling a different approach, with cyclists not legally required to dismount while offering crossing pedestrians priority. That opened in July this year – the government has no data on its use.