An alliance of planners and academics is calling on the city to ban buses and cars from a 1 kilometer stretch of road between Central and Sheung Wan and turn it into a grass-covered pedestrian and tram precinct.
The Hong Kong Institute of Planners, consultants MVA Hong Kong Ltd., a City University academic and Civic Exchange have hatched a plan to revitalize Des Voeux Road Central between Pedder and Morrison streets, and cut roadside air pollution.
“The time is ripe for implementation of the plan now,” MVA director Chapman Lam said Monday.
The plan calls for public transport to be rerouted from Des Voeux Road Central to Connaught Road Central and a new bus terminal located on Connaught Road Central.
The alliance said this action could be taken immediately and would have little impact on traffic.
The next step would involve larger-scale traffic diversions and the replacement of concrete with grass in the zone, along the lines of projects in Japan and many European cities, it said.
The first step could be completed as soon as 2016 and the rest of the work by 2020 with government support.
“It echoes a similar trend in other world cities like New York and London. A pedestrian-friendly Des Voeux Road Central will enhance connectivity and pedestrian movement, reduce traffic congestion, promote business, and improve roadside air quality,” Civic Exchange chief research officer Simon Ng said.
Roadside air quality would improve significantly because the main sources of pollution are diesel commercial vehicles and diesel franchised buses in the district, the proposal said.
Ning Zhi, assistant professor at City University’s School of Energy and Environment, said his research indicated that a 30 percent cut in traffic in this area would reduce roadside air pollutants by between 20 and 40 percent.
The proposal was submitted to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and various government departments last week.
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