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Measuring and Improving Walkability in Hong Kong - Final Report
Type : Research Reports
Publication Date : 14 December 2016
Walking is a daily necessity for the vast majority of Hong Kong residents, who live in a densely urban environment with a high dependence on public transportation. There is a growing consensus that improving walkability will help everything from public health, to air pollution, to economic development. This report was released during the official launch of Civic Exchange’s WALKABILITY initiative on 14 December.
A MEASUREMENT TOOL FOR HONG KONG
It was important to measure the current state of the pedestrian environment, using a tool special to Hong Kong that takes into consideration its density, mixed-land use, constant traffic, hilly topography and other challenges.
For this study, we developed the CEx WALKScore. There are two walkability assessment checklists, one for the general Hong Kong public, and one for professionals. The general checklist lets pedestrians rate various aspects of their daily experience – whether bottlenecks or location problems – on a scale of 1 to 5. The professional checklist has 42 indicators under 10 categories.
FIVE HONG KONG NEIGHBORHOODS
A series of events were organized in Kowloon West to assess the walkability of different area neighbourhoods. Local stakeholders and planning professionals identified problems through the use of the new checklists. Several interventions were recommended in the short and long term to improve the walking environment.
Four more neighborhoods were selected as pilot areas to conduct walk audits, as well as to test use of the checklists.
· Central – The financial and business district on Hong Kong Island was found to be well-connected and efficient, but not the most interesting place to walk. 23/42 points. Average.
· Mongkok – This dense, commercial area in Kowloon was found to be too crowded for comfort and efficiency. 18/42 points. Poor.
· Kwun Tong – This industrial area is currently found to be “not walkable.” However, its recent gentrification and transformation into a commercial district offers opportunities for improvement. 11/42 points. Poor.
· Choi Hung – Choi Hung Estate, a major public housing complex, was found to be very walkable. 41/42 points. Very good.
MORE THAN JUST BUILDING SIDEWALKS
This report discusses the “link” and “place” functions of streets. Walking should not just be physically possible, but also enjoyable, comfortable and efficient. This is why it is important that walk audits be used to assess what short- and longer-term solutions can be found for pedestrians.
Civic Exchange recommends that government departments, professional planners, academics and other community stakeholders use these new CEx WALKScore checklists, to assess the walkability of different districts and neighborhoods around Hong Kong. The collective findings will contribute significantly to making Hong Kong a world-class city for walking.
The report concludes that the city needs to find solutions to connect pedestrians’ destinations – especially public transportation hubs – with user-friendly signage and directions. Walkways should be safe, accessible to all, and reflect the city’s diversity and vitality. Streets should be designed to a human scale, and treated as public spaces that require active management.
16 December 2016 - HKFP - Slow moving on making Hong Kong the world’s walkable city – report
Simon Ng, Carine Lai, Penny Liao, Mandy Lao and Wilson Lau of Civic Exchange.
Sujata Govada and Widemar Spruijt of UDP International