Office Chairs Race to push for a more walkable Des Voeux Road Central
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.”