Pedestrians suffer as much as drivers when it comes to congestion in Central. To address this unpleasant environment and safety issue, Clean Air Network (CAN) and DVRC Initiative co-organised an office chair race on Des Voeux Road Central (DVRC) to advocate improvement measures and the future pedestrianisation of the road for a better and cleaner environment.
Inviting office chairs to represent the workers who are the main sufferers of the poor environment on DVRC, the event encouraged different street users to experience the roughness of the street such as Ted Hui Chi-fung (Democratic Party Member of Western and Central District Council), Nathen Law Kwun-chung (Chairman of Demosistō) and different stakeholders of the street such as workers, dog owners and street runners.
A recent investigation by DVRC Alliance shows that pedestrians on DVRC are overcrowded in black spots such as the intersections of Rumsey Street, Jubilee Street and Queen Victoria’s Street which marks 955, 495 and 425 pedestrian’s flow respectively per 15 minutes in peak hours. During red lights, part of the crowd is forced to stand on the road. Even when the traffic light turns green, pedestrians are in close distance with vehicles which often stay within the zebra crossings.
The alliance has recently expressed its concerns for the situation to Transport Department. In view of the recent proposed measures by Transport Department to the district council for widening zebra crossings in the area, the alliance welcomes the move but considers that more measures should be taken to effectively solve the problem of “pedestrian congestion”. A transport consultancy study shows that the peak pedestrian flow on DVRC reaches 8,000 per hour. The alliance considers the pedestrian space as far from sufficient and urges the government to enhance safety and improve the environment by widening the sidewalk.
According to the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines, the standard width of walkway in commercial district should meet the minimum of 4.5m with an additional 1.5m for street furniture and greening. Nevertheless, certain sections of DVRC are only 2.9 to 3.5m in width and thus limiting the different uses of walkway such as pushing carriages and carts for transporting office supplies and recycled materials.
While the traffic flow on DVRC is only 1/10 of Connaught Road’s, the concentration level of PM2.5 in this area is highest among Central due to the heavy traffic congestion and street canyon effect. During peak hours, the concentration level of PM2.5 on DVRC reaches 55 μg/m3, which is four times the annual average standard set by World Health Organisation.
The alliance comments that with the completion of Central-Wan Chai Bypass in 2018, it’s feasible to transform DVRC into a pedestrian-tram green zone with the rationalization of vehicle’s route so that a clean and walkable Central can be realized.
Patrick Fung, CEO of Clean Air Network, said, “Central lies in the city’s heart and represents the international image of Hong Kong. However, pedestrian’s safety and air quality on DVRC is far from satisfactory. With the aspiration to build a sustainable and smart city, the Hong Kong government should adopt comprehensive measures and policies to improve roadside pollution, among which the pedestrianisation of DVRC is a crucial one.”