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Road Safety on South Lantau

i Jun 16th 1 Comment by

Living Islands Movement (LIM) registers with regret and deep concern the increasing incidence of road traffic accidents on the South Lantau Road (SLR) involving loss of life. In particular, we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of Gavin Spier, tragically killed on the SLR on Saturday  1st June 2013. We were also horrified and saddened by the incident in which 8 cattle were killed a few days later.

We believe these and other accidents highlight the urgent need to improve road safety on South Lantau. That issue should be the sole focus of government action. Removing cattle from South Lantau, as suggested by some, is not a solution to this problem. In fact it would be a backward step sending a wrong signal that any perceived obstacles to speeding traffic will be removed, thus increasing the risks to all road users.

We want to see dangerous driving eradicated from South Lantau, not the cattle. The majority of residents and especially visitors want to continue to enjoy the presence of cattle and buffaloes here.

In addition to the rising number  of reported accidents, LIM is very aware that many local residents and visitors now feel insecure when using the SLR and the streets of Mui Wo, whether as motorists, cyclists, hikers or pedestrians. Speeding, aggressive driving, dangerous overtaking manoeuvres, undisciplined cycling (including use of illegal electric cycles), widespread parking on pavements and illegal driving on EVA roads are among the principal concerns.

This heightened sense of insecurity is due to the significantly increased volumes of traffic in recent years, arising from the large number of new construction projects; higher numbers of tourists visiting South Lantau in various categories; higher demand for bus services especially at weekends; and, most of all, the apparent  growth in the number of Lantau Closed Road Permits being issued to new residents, who continue to arrive at a brisk pace.

There is also reportedly a rising incidence of vehicles illegally entering the South Lantau area without a Lantau Closed Road Permit, via the New Tung Chung Road.

Moreover, the environment of “parking anarchy” that now prevails in Mui Wo  particularly leads to a general sense that laws can be ignored and consideration for other road users can be abandoned. This particular phenomenon is due to the totally inadequate number of parking places in the area when compared with the much larger number of Lantau Closed Road Permits now in circulation.

South Lantau is a uniquely rural community, treasured for its recreation and natural lifestyle opportunities, but one which is facing increasing development pressure, bringing consequential traffic and road safety issues that threaten our tranquil lifestyle.

LIM firmly believes that a review of road safety, traffic regulations and policing on South Lantau is long overdue, taking into account the increased road usage and the needs of ALL road users, whether commercial, residential or recreational; vehicular, cyclist or pedestrian.

The South Lantau Road should be quite adequate for current volumes of traffic if appropriately regulated, taking into account these special conditions.

Based on the long experience of many LIM members of road usage in South Lantau, we propose implementation of the following measures, which would go a long way towards rectifying the current unsafe situation:

 Highways/Transport Department to upgrade regulations and enhance improve road signage:

  • Speed limit of 50 km to apply to the whole SLR
  • Speed limits of 30 km through ALL villages
  • Installation of roadside electronic speedometers advising drivers of their actual speed (as seen in UK)
  • No overtaking (double white lines) on whole length of SLR except at designated passing places
  • Traffic calming and/or speed bumps at entrance and exit and middle of all villages on the SLR (as seen in rural areas in Europe)
  • Signage such as “Tong Fuk welcomes careful drivers” for each village
  • More signage warning of blind exits/entrances on bends of the SLR, and near schools and beaches where children may be present
  • Relocation of bus stops away from blind spots on the road or streets (e.g. Mui Wo)
  • Removal of restrictive railings which discourage pedestrian use of the pavements

Additional resources for Police on South Lantau:

OVERT policing:

  • Dedicated Traffic Unit for Lantau (South)
  • More speed camera sites in the effective places with permanent installation and 24/7 monitoring
  • Alcohol breath-tests carried out – particularly late at night
  • Regular patrols in early morning to discourage people “racing” to catch ferries

COVERT policing:

  • Unmarked police car patrols,
  • CCTV in black spots,
  • more frequent hidden speed checks by speed-gun
  • Police with cameras to monitor e.g. drivers using mobile phones

Other Transport Issues:

  • Install license plate recognition technology at entrance to the New Tung Chung Road at Shek Mun Kap to monitor  vehicles entering South Lantau 24/7 for appropriate Closed Road Permits
  • Tightening the scrutiny of Lantau Closed Road Permit applications, and increasing education measures of new permit holders as to the special characteristics of driving on SLR
  • Tachograph equipment to be installed in all buses and commercial vehicles using SLR. Practice of “gunning” (i.e. over-revving) bus engines to be eliminated through better training of drivers.
  • Strategic review of parking arrangements on South Lantau, especially in Mui Wo, in conjunction with the Mui Wo Face Lift Scheme

CONCLUSION: LIM WELCOMES THE COMMITMENT OF GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS TO IMPROVE ROAD SAFETY AND ENHANCE THE QUALITY OF LIFE ON SOUTH LANTAU. WE LOOK FORWARD TO PARTICIPATING IN FURTHER MEETINGS TO EXAMINE AND IMPLEMENT THESE PROPOSALS IN DETAIL .

Living Islands Movement

15th June 2013

ENDORSED BY:

  • Green Lantau Association
  • ECO-Environment Conservation and Education Association
  • Association for Tai O Environment and Development
  • South Lantau Education Concern Group
  • Lantau Buffalo Association
  • Protection of Animals Lantau South (PALS)
  • The Naked Islands Project – HK
  • Lantau International School 

 

 

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