Hongkong Electric, not known for making waves politically, has published a controversial opinion piece supporting cycling on Hong Kong Island, defying the government’s long-standing recommendations that cycling be discouraged in urban areas of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
In a Facebook post entitled: “Quiz: which road vehicle in the fastest?”, the HK$11 billion electricity company shared that a bicycle would likely be the fastest vehicle on Hong Kong Island, given an average traffic speed of 20 kph and the average speed of “ordinary people on bicycles” being 15 to 20 kph.
“It is verified that bicycles are completely zero-emission,” says the post. “Friends may wish to imitate our editor to use bicycles to travel more, reduce the demand for road traffic and reduce the overall vehicle carbon emissions.”
The post then used a “climate change” hashtag to suggest “saving the planet while doing exercise!”
“If there is an official bicycle track on Hong Kong Island in the future, then you can ride it safely and be environmentally friendly,” concluded the post.
Transport Department has long maintained a policy of anti-cycling on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon’s urban areas, claiming it is too dangerous, that bicycles slow traffic and cause congestion and that there is little demand for bicycle commuting.
There are, at present, no cycle tracks on Hong Kong Island apart from new unconnected stretches along the harbourfont, designed solely for leisure and not connected to the road network.
Cycle parking is also notably absent: Hong Kong University, for example, has just eight bicycle parking spaces for the whole Hong Kong Island campus network. There is no cycle parking at any Hong Kong Island Public Transport Interchanges or MTR stations, even new stations such as Exhibition Centre.
Martin Turner, chairman of the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance, welcomed the news and said the electricity giant was setting a leadership example for businesses to follow. “And to those interested, if you can already cycle confidently on urban roads, don’t wait for the Hong Kong government to catch up with the global zeitgeist, get out and about now, on the most convenient transport mode, and help speed up the introduction of policies and facilities to make HK roads a welcome place for anyone on a bike,” he said.
Hongkong Electric has supported cycling outside urban areas, with many staff at its Lamma Island Power Plant cycling to work and cycling around the plant.