Temporary Pedestrianisation of Des Voeux Road Central
14,400 citizens joined, results in a lower air pollutions than neighbouring streets
and 92% growth in consumer traffic/
Hong Kong, 25 September 2016 – Today from 10am to 4pm, a 200-metre section of Central’s Des Voeux Road Central (from Man Wa Lane to Morrison Street) transformed into a temporary pedestrian and tram precinct, as Very DVRC – co-organised by Clean Air Network, Walk DVRC (formerly known as DVRC Initiative) and Hong Kong Public Space Initiative; and curated by Very Hong Kong – experimented with over 14,400 visitors the possibilities of public space in Hong Kong, building a major milestone for the initiative which was first proposed in 2000. As results of this temporary pedestrian and tram precinct, air pollutants in Des Voeux Road Central dropped lower than neighbouring streets and benefited surrounding merchants with an 92% growth in weekend consumer traffic, which is usually low at weekends.
Very DVRC inspires the public to recognise the right of way and to reflect on Hong Kong’s car-oriented planning approach through engagement in a wide range of activities curated to explore the possibilities of public space if vehicular traffic gives way to pedestrians. Curated by Very Hong Kong, 47 collaborators brought to the site community activities such as street sports and outdoor cinema, while designers and architects restructured the space with awe-inspiring architectural interventions.
As part of this history-making social experiment, the Very DVRC team conducted on-site measurements at several points to evaluate if a pedestrian and tram precinct on Des Voeux Road Central would improve the air quality of the surrounding area by reducing vehicular traffic. The team measured the average concentrations of Fine Particle PM2.5on Connaught Road Central (CRC), Des Voeux Road Central (DVRC) and Queen’s Road Central (QRC), and found that DVRC’s PM2.5 level was 26.3µg/m3, 41.8% and 40.3% lower than those of Connaught Road Central and Queen’s Road Central, which were 37.3µg/m3 and 36.9µg/m3 respectively.
Table 1 – Average fine particle (PM2.5) levels
measured on DVRC, CRC and QRC
|Des Voeux Road Central
|Connaught Road Central
|Queen’s Road Central
The team also measured the vehicular and pedestrian volumes of the aforementioned roads:
Table 2 – Pedestrian and vehicular traffic comparison of DVRC, CRC and QRC
||Average hourly vehicle volume (Statistics from a 2014 study by City University)
||Average peak pedestrian traffic in 15 minutes (Statistics from a 2014 study by City University)
|Des Voeux Road Central
||0 / (300)
||1230 / (640)
|Connaught Road Central
||1285 / (6750)
|Queen’s Road Central
||596 / (500)
As indicated by the statistics above, vehicular traffic was partially diverted from Des Voeux Road to Connaught Road Central and Queen’s Road Central. During the event, the average PM2.5 concentration level of DVRC was approximately 40% lower than that recorded at Connaught Road Central and Queen’s Road Central, proving that a pedestrian and tram precinct would help cutting roadside pedestrians’ exposure to PM2.5.
The temporary pedestrian zone also marked a significant growth of pedestrian traffic, which was 1230 in 15 minutes on average – 92.19% higher than the usual 640 on weekends and holidays.
Very DVRC opening ceremony was successfully hold this morning and guests of honor has made speech to the event:
“Very DVRC has undergone more than a decade of negotiation between the government and different parties. We wish the event could happen regularly in the future,” said MR. Ian Brownlee, Fellow Member of The Hong Kong Institute of Planners.
“Very DVRC is a great result achieved together by the government and local parties. We wish the government and citizen could continue to work hand in hand to build a better city to live,” said MR. Raymond Lee, JP, Acting Director of Planning Department.
“The Environmental Department has been devoting to regulate diesel vehicles to reduce air pollution. Very DVRC explores the possibilities of car-free zone, which provides a good reference for the Department,” said MR. Mok Wai Chuen, JP, Assistant Director of Environmental Department.
“Before it happened, pedestrianization seems to be a mission impossible. However with the effort from different parties, it is really not that difficult to put in place. We wish such meaningful event could happen regularly in the near future, “said MS. Maggie Brooke, Founder of Very Hong Kong.
“We would like to sincerely express our gratitude to all visitors today, as well as 300 volunteers, Hong Kong Tramways Limited, HKSAR Government, Very Hong Kong and 47 collaborators, to make this dream come true. We wish the public space could extend to Pedder Street next time and more citizens could participate this event,” said MR. Patrick Fung, Walk DVRC.
Press Coverages: TVB Pearl – SCMP – HK Free Press – The Standard
Hong Kong, 14 September 2016－Co-organised by WALK DVRC, CLEAN AIR NETWORK, HONG KONG PUBLIC SPACE INITIATIVE and curated by VERY HONG KONG, the 200 metres long VERY DVRC’s one-day public space will take place at Des Veoux Road Central (from Man Wa Lane To Morris St. Sheung Wan), on 25 September 2016 (Sunday) 10am to 4pm. The space is approved under “Temporary Traffic Arrangement” by Transport Department. A wide variety of non-commercial activities will be organized by 47 participating parties for the general public. It spans across arts, sports, culture, environment and urban lifestyle – all the intrinsic elements of a sustainable city.
Guests at Very DVRC opening ceremony (Back roll, from left):
MR. Emmanuel Vivant, Managing Director, Hong Kong Tramways Limited
MR. Kenneth To, Vice President of The Hong Kong Institute of Planners
MS. Maggie Brooke, Founder of Very Hong Kong
MR. Raymond Lee, JP, Acting Director of Planning Department
MR. Francesco Rossini, Initiator of Seat for Sococializing
MR. Ian Brownlee, Fellow Member of The Hong Kong Institute of Planners
MR. To Kam Biu David, JP, Deputy Director Commissioner of Transport Department
MR. Mok Wai Chuen, JP, Assistant Director of Environmental Department
MS. Samathy Woo, JupYeah, Event Collaborator
MS. Kate Lau, Send the Left Food, Event Collaborator
MS. Olive Wong, Send the Left Food, Event Collaborator
Dr. Edward Yiu, Legislative Councilor-elect (for the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape Functional Constituency)
MR. Allan Zeman GBM, GBS, JP
MR. Eric Schuldenfrei, Associate Dean of Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong
(Front roll, from left)
MR. Stephen Wong, Chairman of Clean Air Network
MR. Patrick Fung, Walk DVRC/CEO of CAN
MR. Paul Zimmerman, Walk DVRC
MR. Kenny Or, Hapi School, Event Collaborator
MS. Veron Sung, Event Collaborator
MR. Ajyum Chan, HKPSI
MR. Chan Ho Lim Joseph, District Councilor
MR. Benson Poon, Walk DVRC
In 2015, Walk DVRC, in alliance with communities, professionals and academics, established our vision of transforming the busy and heavily polluted Central area of Des Voeux Road Central into a cleaner and more desirable public space. VERY DVRC addresses to these issues by creatively transforming the current traffic thoroughfare into an innovative urban artery for Hong Kong that opens possibilities for a new kind of catalytic public space, even just for one day. VERY DVRC called for creative event proposals from general public in August and 47 collaborators have been confirmed.
The events cover from street sports, up-cycling street furniture, swap party and children reading etc.The activity area of Very DVRC was reduced from 1.4km (from Pedder Street to Morrison Street) to 200m (from Man Wa Lane to Morrison Street) because Hong Kong Police Force is concerned about risks to public safety due to the short distance between trams and pedestrians. Very DVRC, however, hopes to resolve this, so that both trams and pedestrians can share the road. We therefore will continue to negotiate with different official departments and Hong Kong Tramways about the arrangements for ensuring public safety.
1. Hapi School: Founded by a group of parents, Hapi School is a popular reading club group dedicated to promoting reading as a way to educate children about nature, humanity and community.
2. JupYeah: Having organised countless public swap parties, JupYeah will be present to advocate the ‘Consume less. Share better’ ethos by offering a self-service space for general public to share useful goods with everyone in the community.
3. Magic Carpet: An outreach programming combining documentation of daily life, community engagement and urban design, Magic Carpet transforms a public space into an outdoor cinema, re-envisioning the possibilities of community space.
4. Eco-Riders: Dedicated to promoting cycling as a means of transport, Eco-Riders plans to organize cycling tours that lead cyclers to enjoy a smooth ride from Des Voeux Road Central to Sai Wan.
5. City Absurdities Work: ‘+ Furniture’ by CAW is a speculative exercise on actualising the possibilities for Hong Kong dwellers to ‘hack’ onto existing infrastructure to innovate new forms of urban scenarios such as dining along the fences.
6. Send the Left Food: How would you re-plot of your city if given a chance? Send the Left Food designs modular blocks for you to stretch your creative muscle and create your own pop-up infrastructure.
7. Social Deck: Des Voeux Road Central was once the coastline of Hong Kong, hence the concept of ‘Social Deck’, which aims to bring water back to urban city life and a catalyst for social gathering to occur.
8. CACHe: Streets used to be the collective space for everyday life. At the mobile classroom created by the Conservancy Association Centre for Heritage, the general public are welcome to join free workshops and learn about Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritage.
9. Beyond Bollywood: The NGO founded in 2015 will engage general public in Bollywood dance performance and interactive activities to facilitate cultural exchanges, connecting people with different origins within our city.
10. People’s Pitch: The ardent football players explore public space and community development by hosting football matches – a perfect way to gather people within the neighbourhood and beyond!
11. Gallery Around the Corner: A community gallery formed by many shops, Gallery Around the Corner is dedicated to exhibiting art pieces by children and ‘artiststo-be’ in public space and bringing art to Hong Kong’s everyday life.
12. Kalacove ‘Past, Praya, Future’: ‘Praya’, meaning next to the sea, refers to the promenade DVRC used to be. Kalacove aims to create a mosaic collage pieced together by the community to see our home city and its history from another perspective.
13. Hug 21: Hug is more than an expression of affection; it releases ‘Oxytocin’, a mediator of antistress, well-being and social interaction. Hug 21 invites pedestrians to hug with their friends, partners and strangers for 21 seconds for a collective documentation.
14. Hong Kong Collectors’ Society: Mr. Lau Kwok Wai from HKCS is an ardent historian and Executive Director of CACHe. He will be present to introduce the history of Hong Kong’s tramways – the historic trail that connects different areas of Hong Kong Island.
(From left) Mr. Benson Poon, Senior Town Planner of planning and development consultancy Masterplan; Mr. Patrick Fung, CEO of Clean Air Network; Mr. Billy Kwan, Curator of Very Hong Kong; Mr. Jeffrey Wong, General Secretary of Hong Kong Public Space Initiative
Pedestrians suffer as much as drivers when it comes to congestion in Central. To address the 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 street for a better and cleaner environment.
With office chairs symbolizing the workers who mainly suffer the poor environment on DVRC, the event invites 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) as well as different stakeholders of the street such as worker, dog owner and street runner.
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 contact with vehicles which often stay within the zebra crossings.
The alliance has recently expressed 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”. As a transport consultancy study shows that the peak pedestrian flow on DVRC reaches 8,000 per hour, the alliance considers the pedestrian space is 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 that limit the use of walkway from various street users such as the 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, one of the air pollutants, is highest among all in 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 the fourfold of the World Health Organisation’s annual average standard.
The alliance comments that with the completion of Central-Wan Chai Bypass in 2018, it’s feasible to transform DVRC into the pedestrian-tram green zone with the rationalization of vehicle’s route so that the clean and walkable city of Central can be realized.
Patrick Fung, the CEO of Clean Air Network, said, “Central is in the city’s heart that represents the international image of Hong Kong. However the pedestrian’s safety and the air pollution is far from satisfaction on DVRC. Aspiring to become a sustainable and smart city, the Hong Kong government should take comprehensive measures and policies to improve the roadside pollution, among which the pedestrianisation of DVRC is a crucial one.”
Click here to join the petition to rezone Des Voeux Road Central.
Clean Air Network, Designing Hong Kong, Friends of the Earth (HK) and The Conservancy Association have submitted a section 12A application to the Town Planning Board, to rezone Des Voeux Road Central (DVRC) from “road” to “Pedestrian Area and Environmentally Friendly Transport System”
The West Island MTR line has recently opened, and the Central-Wanchai Bypass and the MTR’s South Island Line and Sha Tin to Central railway will also be opened soon. These provide the opportunity to re-arrange traffic, address congestion, and reduce roadside noise and air pollution in Central. The proposal includes a strip along the centre of the DVRC for environmentally friendly transport – including tram and electric buses. The north-south roads that cross DVRC including Rumsey Street, Wing Wo Street, Jubilee Street, Pottinger Street and Pedder Street will remain open so that traffic can connect between Queen’s Road Central and Connaught Road Central.
The deadline of submitting public comments to Town Planning Board is 16th Oct. ACT NOW!
(21 September 2015, Hong Kong) — An Initiative of environmental, public space and urban planning groups was unveiled today at a press conference held at the Asia Society to campaign for a pedestrianized green artery along Des Voeux Road Central (DVRC).
The “Des Voeux Road Central Initiative” is a collaboration between Clean Air Network, Designing Hong Kong, Friends of the Earth (HK) and Hong Kong Public Space Initiative, supported by various professional groups, commercial and real estate sectors, and public think tanks as follows:
Clean Air Network
Designing Hong Kong
Friends of the Earth (HK)
Hong Kong Public Space Initiative
ADM Capital Fund
China Real Estate Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong Chapter
Lan Kwai Fong Group
Nan Fung Group
Sai Wan Concern Group
The Conservancy Association
The Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects
The Hong Kong Institute of Planners
The DVRC Initiative will work on the following areas:
- DVRC Design Studios – The Hong Kong University and Columbia University will collaborate to generate visions of how the DVRC Initiative could transform Hong Kong Central.
- DVRC Friends – A program to raise funds, and to sign up supporters, sponsors, collaborators and friends.
- DVRC on Sunday – A program to extend the temporary traffic management scheme (closure) of Chater Road to Western Market on Sundays and Public Holidays.
- DVRC Research – A program of collaborative studies into traffic management, traffic aid and streetscape design, and future street management.
- DVRC Office – A resource center for liaison among stakeholders, government and community.
For Hong Kong to live up to its reputation as Asia’s World City, the Initiative believes it is imperative for DVRC to transform into a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare. To include innovative urban design that showcases Hong Kong’s vibrant cultural landscape and urban DNA. The Initiative calls for city-wide support from the general public, community groups, the business sector and professional institutions to address major pollution and environmental problems in Central.
A collaboration between the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) of the Columbia University echoes the call. Students of both studios will work out urban design models based on the context of the DVRC. The models will be exhibited during the Business of Design Week in December 2015, the 2015 Urbanism\Architecture Bi-City Biennale and as a tram installation touring along the tram line of DVRC and Hong Kong Island.
The Initiative will also host public engagement activities, including walking tours, workshops, and pop-up events, which aim to raise the bar for the transformation of public spaces in Hong Kong’s central business district and encourage the public to experience DVRC in a different light.
The Initiative supports the current “tram and pedestrian precinct” proposal, built upon an earlier scheme put forward by HKIP in 2000, which pointed out that improvements planned in transport infrastructure could significantly better Central’s environmental quality by 2014. The completion of the MTR extension to Kennedy Town and the reorganization of bus routes in the area present a unique opportunity to restructure Central.
The public can also show their support for the Initiative by making donations for the campaign or joining the mailing list to get regular updates about latest initiatives.
To find out more about the Des Voeux Road Central Initiative please visit www.dvrc.hk
The University of Hong Kong and Columbia University collaboration is made possible in part through the generous support of Tim Dattels and Kristine Johnson.