The Transport Department has decided to remove the Mong Kok pedestrian zone after the results of a public consultation showed that most of the people living in the vicinity wanted it scrapped, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The controversial area will be reopened to vehicular traffic from Aug. 4, the department said in a document submitted on Wednesday to the Yau Tsim Mong District Council, which voted in favor of shutting it down on May 24.
Since 2000, the pedestrian zone has been occupying a part of Sai Yeung Choi Street South, one of the busiest streets in Hong Kong and a popular shopping and tourist destination. It has drawn various street performers, who create so much noise that they have become a nuisance to shops owners, pedestrians and residents.
The Transport Department (TD) has restricted the opening hours of the zone to weekends and public holidays since 2014, but the move has failed to stop complaints of noise pollution and congestion in the neighborhood.
The TD later launched a public consultation in the district through the Home Affairs Department.
It sent a total of 697 letters to building owners’ corporations, residents and shop owners in the district to seek their opinions on whether the pedestrian zone should be kept.
As of Tuesday, it had received 154 replies, of which 97 percent said they prefer to see the zone shut down.
According to the TD document, the pedestrian zone saw human flows of between 10,700 and 14,800 people an hour during busy hours on weekends in May and June, less than that seen in 2014, while vehicular traffic in the area was also not high.
As such, the department concluded that scrapping the zone was feasible.
It also said several measures will have to be taken in view of the scrapping of the pedestrian zone, including replacing traffic signs and adjusting traffic lights.
Welcoming the decision, legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, from the pro-establishment Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, said she hopes the state of affairs in the neighborhood will return to normal as there have been no effective regulations to control the noise and the crowds since the zone was established 18 years ago.
Yau Tsim Mong District Council member Andy Yu Tak-po from the Civic Party said he could understand the nuisance caused by the noise and street obstructions that residents in the area have long been suffering.
But Yu noted that the street performers would probably just transfer to other places, such as Causeway Bay or Tsim Sha Tsui, and as such, appropriate regulations on street performance venues must be implemented.
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