Hong Kong has the potential to become a pedestrian-friendly city by connecting small parks into long pathways for walkers and joggers.
Government House should spare some space to allow a pathway that connects Hong Kong Park and the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, said architect Rocco Yim.
“International cities such as New York and London have large parks but Hong Kong Island only has some small parks. Can we link up all these small parks for walkers and joggers?” Yim told EJ Insight.
Whether the idea will be a success depends on the government’s determination because it involved some public sites, he said.
If Hong Kong Park and the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens are connected, pedestrians can walk along Queensway Plaza and Admiralty Center to the Tamar Park and the waterfront, he said.
When the Central-Wan Chai Bypass is finished, people can walk from Tamar Park to the Victoria Park.
He proposed a pedestrian pathway under the Island Eastern Corridor to connect Victoria Park and Quarry Bay Park and Taikoo Shing.
In western Hong Kong Island, improvements could be made in the connection between Shun Tak Center and the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park.
Although reclamation in Victoria Harbour should be avoided, the government should remain flexible when implementing the Protection of Harbor Ordinance if the use of some seaside areas is needed when linking the parks, Yim said.
From Oct. 3 to 7, Civic Exchange and Walk21, a UK-based non-government organisation, will co-organize the 17th Walk21 annual conference on walking and livable communities for the first time in Hong Kong.
Continuity and permeability
Yim, one of the conference speakers, said Hong Kong can share its experience with pedestrian-friendly environments with the world.
He said Hong Kong should continue to improve the continuity and permeability of its pedestrian pathways to enhance user experience.
“Continuity refers to whether pedestrians can walk smoothly without crossing the road or waiting for traffic signals while permeability refers to whether they can walk through the buildings,” he said.
Continuity of Hong Kong’s pedestrian pathways is lower than in some mainland cities such as Beijing and Shenzhen due to limitations in some old districts, he said.
However, new districts such as West Kowloon-Hung Hom and Southeast Kowloon-Kai Tak Cruise Terminal have a lot of potential.
In terms of permeability, Hong Kong outperforms major Chinese cities.
For example, the HSBC headquarters and Three Garden Road, formerly Citibank Tower, offer public access on the ground floor.
By law, commercial buildings can be granted a higher plot ratio if they offer public areas, Yim said.
However, the Building Department has tightened approvals after some developers abused the system.
Yim said the government should review the system and try to improve the permeability of pedestrian pathways.
Some shopping malls, such as the International Finance Center mall, are pedestrian-friendly as their deeds clearly state the requirement for the width of pathways but others are not.
Yim said property developers should take more initiatives to provide comfortable pathways for walkers in their shopping malls.
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