Legislative Council meeting – Formulating bicycle-friendly policy

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):

President, a recent article titled “Cycling: green and efficient transport for the future” by the European
Commission pointed out that cycling is not only a healthy exercise, but can also reduce carbon emissions.   It is indeed a green and efficient means of transport for the future.   However, in my opinion, before promoting bicycles extensively as a mode of transport, comprehensive measures such as urban planning, road design, legislative amendments and drivers education are necessary.   Educating drivers on the proper driving attitude is of particular importance. Building a bicycle-friendly city relies not solely on hardware construction, it also depends on adjusting people’s attitude towards cycling.   Hence, my speech will focus mainly on two aspects: a proper cycling attitude and stringent enforcement.

When we mention cycling, we will immediately think of Sarah LEE, who grew up in the Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate, wearing her rainbow jersey as a world champion.   Or we will think of WONG Kam Po, also known as “Asia’s god of cycling” and “the prince of cycling”.   They have both fully demonstrated the spirit of Hong Kong.   Apart from that, cycling is also an outing activity for
people to do in groups on holidays. But have we considered the need of a cycling licence for using bicycles as a mode of transport?   Currently, there are driving licences for private cars, goods  vehicles, taxis, minibuses, buses and motor tricycles and such in Hong Kong, but a driving licence for bicycles does not exist.  Similarly, there are driving instructors and driving schools in Hong Kong, but there is no cycling school giving cycling training because people generally do not consider bicycles as a formal mode of transport.

President, I would like to share the example of a country where a bicycle-friendly  policy  was  successfully  implemented―Germany.   It  is  quite popular to use cycling as a mode of transport in Germany, and the government there imposes stringent regulations on cycling and bicycle lanes.   Children under the age of 10 are required to ride on the pavements. A road test specific for children is arranged in primary schools, and only those who have passed the test are allowed to cycle on roads.   Children over the age of 10 must comply with traffic rules just like adults. They will need to get a cycling licence to learn various traffic knowledge and etiquette, such as giving way to pedestrians, when they grow up. The example of Germany shows that, in order to develop a bicycle-friendly city, it is necessary to allow the public to familiarize with the idea that bicycles are a green and formal mode of transport, to turn bicycles into a safe mode of transport and to instill a proper driving attitude in the public.

President, apart from a proper driving attitude, I believe stringent enforcement is also very important. Under the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 347), reckless or careless cycling is liable to a fine of $500; repeated conviction is liable to a fine of $1,000 and to imprisonment for three months.
However, as far as I understand it, the Police need to witness the violation by the cycler in order to issue a penalty summons, hence, the number of prosecution against cycling offenders has been small.  On the contrary, the relevant legislation in Germany is rather  rigorous. For example, red light-jumping cyclers are liable to a fine of more than €100; drink cycling in Germany is liable to a fine of €6,000 and to imprisonment for one to five years; offenders must also pass a psychological test and a road test in order to become cyclists again.

President, I like cycling too, so I will definitely support formulating a bicycle-friendly policy.   However, as I have just said, making reference to the overseas experience where bicycles are successfully used as a mode of transport, the predetermined objective cannot be achieved by simply increasing bicycle lanes and relevant ancillary measures from the angle of cycling enthusiasts or users as proposed in this motion.   Rather, possible concerns of the public on a change in the policy on cycling should be taken into account and a consensus on road use and penalties for non-compliance should be reached, in order to really promote Hong Kong as a bicycle-friendly city.
I so submit.   Thank you, President.