Road to a Better Hong Kong: A Vision for Des Voeux Road Central
Hong Kong is one of the world’s great cities, but its quality of life and world-class status are significantly compromised by air pollution, congestion, and a lack of desirable public space. Imagine if, instead of for cars, streets were designed for pedestrians and trams to become vibrant, green arteries in the heart of the city.
By working with the public, government, business owners, and other stakeholders, our independent, nonprofit campaign aims to implement a plan to pedestrianise Des Voeux Road Central for the benefit of Hong Kongers and visitors alike. The plan is not only pragmatic and feasible; it offers a model for improving Hong Kong’s quality of life and enhancing its competitiveness, while creating a truly great and innovatively-designed urban space. Help us realise this vision for a more livable, forward-looking, and human-centred Hong Kong.
How we are trying to give Hong Kong back to its people
In 2000, the Hong Kong Institute of Planners (HKIP) proposed a pedestrian precinct in Central. The proposal sought to transform a section of DVRC into a walking destination, free from cars, taxis and busses, that would be inclusive and inviting to all members of the public.
Benefit: Enhanced wellbeing
- Air quality and walkability will be greatly enhanced if DVRC is pedestrianized. This would help to decrease the risk of chronic diseases and in general promote health and wellbeing.
- Widening public spaces can create a friendly environment for the elderly, children and the disabled, leading to social inclusion.
- Pedestrianization can increase foot traffic and hence boost sales in shops, bringing an economic benefit to the area.
- Placemaking is an international phenonmenon. Cities around the world are reaping the numerous benefits that walkable cities can bring. Examples abound of how planning cities around people instead of cars brings true benefits.
In 2000, the Hong Kong Institute of Planners (HKIP) proposed for a pedestrian precinct in Central. The important part of this study was that it looked ahead to the possibilities that would arise as new transport infrastructure was completed from 2014. That proposal included the progressive removal of vehicles from DVRC and replacement with landscaped pedestrian areas.
In 2014, the HKIP, in conjunction with Civic Exchange, City University and transport consultants MVA (HK) Ltd, revisited the 2000 study and updated the urban design proposals, and updated the traffic proposals based on the pending opening of the MTR West Island line. The study convincingly laid out the plan’s feasibility and potential for mitigating Central’s notoriously bad air pollution and traffic congestion.
In 2015, leading Hong Kong civic groups including Clean Air Network, Designing Hong Kong, Hong Kong Public Space Initiative, supported by Knight Frank, The Conservancy Association, Friends of the Earth (HK), etc, to form the Des Voeux Road Central Initiative. The group has been in discussions with relevant Hong Kong SAR Government Bureaux and Departments as well as local business leaders to secure their support for the plan.
In 2016, the Des Voeux Road Central Initiative was re-branded as Walk DVRC.
DVRC Planned Initiatives
DVRC Research – To conduct studies into traffic management, traffic aid and streetscape design, and future street management. These studies are envisioned as collaborative projects between Government and stakeholders, and facilitated by the DVRC Initiative. Traffic Management Studies will help identify the opportunities and constraints for diverting traffic in Central and facilitating drop off/pick up of passengers and the loading/unloading activities required near and along Des Voeux Road Central. The Traffic Aid and Streetscape Design will develop plans for infrastructure, signage, seating and greening along Des Voeux Road Central. The Street Management Studies will consider the institutional framework required for managing the DVRC Initiative and for the future management of Des Voeux Road Central as a Tram and Pedestrian Precinct.
DVRC Design Studios – In collaboration with universities, professional institutes and community organizations the DVRC Initiative will assist the engagement of the community and stakeholders. Events will organized and supported which help generate visions of how the DVRC Initiative could transform Hong Kong Central, and allow the community and stakeholders to consider proposals and to provide comments on the traffic management, urban design, and future street management plans.
DVRC on Sunday – The program to extend the temporary traffic management scheme (closure) of Chater Road to Western Market on Sundays and Public Holidays will help identify long term solutions for improving the pedestrian environment along Des Voeux Road Central. The roads which 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. This will also allow drop off/pick up and loading/unloading activities. The pedestrianized areas along Des Voeux Road Central can be made available for events, markets, gatherings and community activities.
DVRC Office – To support the research, community design studios and temporary traffic management schemes, a resource center will be created for fund raising, organization and the liaison among stakeholders, government and community.