Villagers who steal Tai Po cycle lanes for use as their own private driveways are getting a free pass from Transport Department (TD), which now says it has not reported stolen or vandalised cycle infrastructure to the police.
Many drivers along Ting Kok Road in Tai Po have been spotted using cycle lanes as private driveways, thieving or destroying cycle lane bollards to gain access. Before Christmas, TD said it was aware of the issue of villagers “repeatedly” stealing or vandalising government bollards, and said it had made police reports on the issue.
“It was observed that … some frangible bollards were repeatedly removed for vehicles to park on some vacant land via the cycle tracks,” said a TD spokeswoman on 15 December.
“TD has referred the illegal activities to the Police for follow-up action,” they said.
But when pressed for exact time and date of those reports, the department said it did not actually report the stolen bollards, but only cases of drivers driving illegally on the cycle lane.
“The cases TD referred to the Police for follow-up action were the illegal activities of motor vehicles driving on the cycle tracks, not the removal of the bollards,” said a spokeswoman on 23 December.
The spokeswoman did not provide details of those reports when asked.
TD also did not respond to questions on why it had not reported the theft or vandalism of government property.
Local residents and cycle campaigners say the cycle lane theft is common practice amongst villages in the area and other parts of Hong Kong too.
“There are a number of road-front houses along that stretch of road which have parking spaces sandwiched between the property and the pavement/cycle path. The only way to access the road is to drive on the cycle path too,” said a member of the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance on Facebook.
The cycle path between Tai Po Industrial Estate and Tai Mei Tuk is heavily broken by vehicle entrances, roads and driveways – there are 26 “cyclist dismount” signs along that 5.8km stretch, an average of one per 220 metres.
Police have been aggressively targeting cyclists who ride through these signs or who ride on footpaths or on roads where a cycle track is present. Hundreds of cyclists have been ticketed this month alone for offences such as cycling on the footpath or riding without lights at night.