This is the act of actively pursuing a policy of getting more people to take up cycling or of existing cyclists to cycle more. The main objective of promoting cycling is to improve health and to gain environmental benefits by reducing the amount of motorised traffic. In Hong Kong the environmental benefits of promoting cycling will be minimal because there are very few people to switch from cars to bicycles due to the low levels of car ownership and high quality of public transport. The promotion of cycling overseas is often allied to other issues such as pedestrianisation and traffic calming.
The promotion of cycling is an overt act and is active rather than passive or merely reactive and must include some of the assistance issues discussed above if it is to be safe and successful.
Review of standard justifications for Promoting Cycling
Justifications for Promoting Cycling
(From UK National Cycling Strategy)
1. Health - cycling can improve health by lowering the risk of heart disease, shedding excess weight and increasing fitness. Tests have shown that after 4 to 5 months of regular cycling, aerobic fitness improves by an average of 13% and body fat falls by an average of two to three Kg. Regular exercise reduces stress and contributes to mental well being.
2. Environment - increasing cycling benefits the environment by cutting carbon dioxide emissions and reducing noise.
3. Education - the establishment of safer routes to schools of road safety issues and improve of what schools, colleges and universities are doing to provide facilities for cyclists forms a valuable part of the overall picture.
4. Access to Employment - by making it easier for people to get to work by bicycle employers increase the potential labour force available to them.
5. Sustainable Tourism - The development of more widespread cycle routes will enhance access to the countryside and open up new opportunities for tourism. Rural economies will benefit from the increase in passing trade.
Comments in Relation to Hong Kong
1. The British Medical Association concluded that for the UK, the overall health benefits injury to individual cyclists. No similar study has been done for Hong Kong but since the majority of additional cycling which would take place would be in the urban areas of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, one would need to be very certain of the benefits before undertaking a programme of promotion in these areas based on health benefits alone.
2. There seems to be no circumstance in which increases in the level of cycling in the urban areas would reduce traffic congestion in Hong Kong. This is because, unlike other developed economies, Hong Kong has a very low level of car ownership and a very high level of public transport usage. In practice due to the need for traffic calming in order to introduce on-street cycling facilities there would be a tendency for traffic congestion to increase which could contradict the environmental aims.
3. This is unlikely to be applicable to Hong Kong since public transport and private coaches are widely used to take children to and from school. In any event routes would need to be in place first and the underlying safely problems resolved.
4. It is unlikely that given the generally affordable public transport fares and high frequency of service that there are many employers who cannot find workers and at this point in time there is currently ample labour available in Hong Kong.
5. It is agreed that this is applicable to Hong Kong and is currently being pursued under the cycle track studies for the New Territories. (see para. 22.214.171.124)