Perhaps it matters little to most people, but from earlier this month, it has been possible to safely cross Salisbury Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, between The Peninsula hotel and the Space Museum, after the reopening of a pedestrian crossing.
It was probably inevitable that the budget for the West Kowloon Cultural District park would be cut. With projected cost overruns for the arts hub that are expected to be compounded by delays on the MTR’s high-speed railway, Norman Foster’s vision of an urban forest has now been replaced with a series of open lawns.
Amid the squabbles about the basement at the West Kowloon arts hub, you might have missed what was happening above ground, and recent Legislative Council discussions about integrating the cultural district with its surrounding areas.
When was the last time you walked along Des Voeux Road Central? Those of us who work in Central probably spend a fair share of our time there every working day, dodging people and obstacles on the crowded pavements.
Civic Exchange, the Hong Kong Institute of Planners, City University of Hong Kong and the MVA consultancy published a practical proposal to revitalize the Central district by turning a segment of Des Voeux Road into a green space reserved for trams and pedestrians.
The report is a practical proposal which would significantly change the image of Central and address the poor air quality in Hong Kong’s Central Business District.
Imagine a street without guard railings, kerbs or traffic signals. Pedestrians, vehicles and even bicyclists weave around another at a leisurely pace. Everyone seems to know where they are going and no one collides.
In a remarkably short-sighted move, the Yau Tsim Mong District Council has voted to remove the Sai Yeung Choi Street pedestrian zone on weekday nights, leaving it closed to cars only at weekends. It cited the numerous complaints from residents and shopkeepers.
Witnessing the vast undersupply of good street environments in Hong Kong, the author is motivated to look into features which enable good experiences, so that urban planners and policy makers can proceed from merely solving urban problems to designing for living streets.
This report studies the walking environment in Central, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mongkok and Ma On Shan, draws on the best practices from overseas cities, and maps out what it takes for Hong Kong to become a world class city for pedestrians.