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designing hong kong

Street Fighting

HK Magazine ran an article aptly named ‘Street Fighting', highlighting Hong Kong's concern for cars over people. Click here to link to the article in the
October 3rd, 2008 issue.


‘From pollution to urban renewal and quality of life, a lot of Hong Kong's problems can be traced back to unnecessary road construction

‘Which is more important in Hong Kong
-cars or you? If you read the pedestrian chapter of the pro-vehicle bias in this guidebook (the Transport Department's official "Road User's Code," ) is emblematic of a larger, and much more disturbing one that guides all of our town planning, and has caused its fair share of controversy over the years

‘Road planning here goes on ahead of actual urban planning, and whatever's left over of the land goes in for zoning at the Town Planning Board

‘the government's planning process gives priority to building roads without considering good town planning or air quality

‘once you build a road, it stimulates development and generates traffic, and you end up with a chicken-and-egg scenario. Far from thinking ahead, government planners are fixated on short-term goals

‘the head of planning just thinks, if I can do this in my term, then I can retire and the next guy can take care of the situation

‘The existing administrative structure only promotes such narrow-mindedness. Currently, no single authority oversees the design of the city, which is a clumsy, piecemeal process.

 ‘most essential planning and design problems .. down to the fact that Roads and Railways Ordinances and the Town Panning Ordinance are entirely separate, despite their overlapping concerns. The Transport Department reports to the Chief Executive, while the Town Planning Board, through which public consultations are held, is powerless to stop its roads, and is forced to zone around them afterwards

‘In 1982, the colonial government created the Capital Works Reserve Fund, a repository for all revenue from land sales. All money from this fund was designated solely for infrastructure projects. Decades later, when major projects have become not only unnecessary but detrimental to the city's environment, the fund is still collecting money for them. Rather than redirecting the funds to areas where it might be needed-improving quality of life, addressing the widening rich-poor gap-the government continues to channel it toward unnecessary roads and bridges.

many also suggest that the government is susceptible to influence from the developers and construction companies who have profited from such infrastructure projects and have a vested interest in keeping them going. The Route 4 extension is itself being built to provide extra vehicle access to new hotel developments proposed for the area

road pricing will also soon be necessary in Kowloon
too, if you consider the government's projections for more cross-border traffic in the coming decades. "The new roads to China can only be financed by having more vehicles going over them, and the only way we can stop those vehicles from going to places like Mong Kok is by road pricing, not by simply building more roads elsewhere

For the full article and supporting images in HK magazine, click here.

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