Transport Department (TD) has knocked back a campaigner’s request to open a scenic and useful road to bicycles, citing “the potential risk of cyclists falling from the bridge to the sea” as a key safety concern.
Gold Coast resident James Tagg has lobbied TD to have Castle Peak Road – New Tai Lam opened to bicycles. The 800-metre stretch of Castle Peak Road is a bridge offering a direct shortcut across the Tai Lam Chung inlet, shaving around half a kilometre off the crossing.
But TD this week claimed the bridge isn’t safe for bikes. Aside from the risk of cyclists falling over the barriers into the ocean, TD says the gradients – around 4% – are too steep for safe cycling. “Steep gradients can lead to excessive high speed of cyclists when descending downhill ramps whereas it can also cause difficulties to cyclists in climbing up slopes,” said TD in response to Tagg’s requests.
“In addition, the speed limit of the Bridge is 70kph. Due to the slender size of bicycles, cyclists are often susceptible to headwinds, crosswinds or even wind-drag developed by the passing-by of heavy vehicles at high speed,” TD wrote by email.
Tagg says he has more concerns over the only legal option to cross that inlet. “The alternative route via Tai Lam bus terminal offers a more dangerous routing for cyclists as it passes the bus station and involves mixing with heavy traffic through two sets of traffic lights as vehicles turn onto the motorway,” he told Transit Jam.
“It is quite puzzling why the bridge remains off-limits to cyclists as the gradient on the bridge is less that at other points on Castle Peak Road and the traffic levels are less than at other points on the road between Tuen Mun and Tsuen Wan,” he says.
There are some 340 “Bicycle Prohibited Zones” in Hong Kong, covering bridges or underpasses deemed not compatible with safe cycling, such as having no pavements alongside for tired cyclists to stop and take a rest.
In 2013, the government paid a consultant to analyze 105 sites for a potential lifting of the bans in certain circumstances: a shortlist of 16 was announced in 2018 but to date only one, on Choi Ha Road in Kwun Tong, has had cycle restrictions removed.
For example Kennedy Road flyover in Central still today prohibits riders, despite making the consultant’s 2018 shortlist.
Tagg plans to follow-up with TD but says he’s not optimistic of getting a meeting. In a post on the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance Facebook page, the rider said he would also enquire about the number of cyclists who have actually fallen into the ocean.
“Presumably this is all based on hard evidence rather than someone watching E.T. when they were a kid and seeing a bike fly,” he wrote.