Guest article by Martin Turner, chairman of the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance (HKCAll)
The new Cross Bay Link (bridge) in Tseung Kwan O – with its striking ‘infinity loop’ design – will open for public use (road and adjacent cycle track/walkway) next Sunday (11 Dec) at 8am.
Yesterday, on a lovely morning, I was invited to enjoy a sneak preview of the cycle track.
Oddly, the invitation ride was not open to “tricycles, bikes with training wheels, tandem bikes, recumbent bikes and family bikes”. This was ascribed to unspecified “safety concerns” but no doubt all legal vehicles will be allowed once the route is in use. Helmets were required. Duly garbed, and taking my five-year-old son along for the experience, I met with a few old cycling friends and contingents from the Civil Engineering and Development Department, AECOM and Transport Department for a pleasantly casual (by government standards) inspection by us user representatives. The officials keenly sought our comments and any criticisms.
As ever with cycle planning in Hong Kong, the development’s designers focused on recreational use rather than linking communities – in particularly the 5km loop that the bridge will form with existing tracks through Tseung Kwan O and to Lohas Park. And no doubt many locals and non-TKO folk will ride that loop, just for the fun of it. But the link also enables convenient cycling access from Lohas Park and the Tseung Kwan O Innopark to the shopping district of Tiu Keng Leng, and vice versa.
So how was the ride? The cycleway is wide and mostly clear of obstacles (still a few plastic bollards to avoid), and the incline up the bridge is manageable (even by my boy on his single-speed, 12-inch-wheeled bike). With its pleasant view over Junk Bay toward TKO – and the new (pedestrian) ‘Southern Bridge’ across the Eastern Channel, the route is sure to be popular. We had just a few niggling concerns – such as the not quite-flush link between the cycleway and the ‘observation deck’ at the brow of the bridge. Also, while understandable that the cycleway is set behind the walkway, the solid concrete barrier between them rather blocks the view for very young riders.
Overall then, the new bridge cycleway is a very welcome development.
Still, looking at the bigger picture, it’s a pity that Tseung Kwan O maintains its “Truman Show” status as a paradise that you can’t cycle out of. (More precisely, you can’t cycle westward to Kowloon without a hefty detour and climb via Po Lam Road North.) Beyond this internal loop, please can we conjure up bikeable access to Kwun Tong – since we are banned from the connected Lam Tin Tunnel, either along the coast through to Lei Yue Mun, or – easiest of all – by unlocking the barrier across the existing O King Road.