Improving Bike Parking in Yung Shue Wan – towards a more beautiful Lamma
Submitted to the Islands District Office, Home Affairs Department
According to a notice dated July 2008 issued by the Port Works Division of the Civil Engineering and Development Department and posted outside the Rural Committee:
“Shortage of cycle parking area (CPA) near Yung Shue Wan (YSW) Ferry Pier has been a major problem at Lamma which needs to be solved. Meanwhile, people riding bicycles to catch ferries get used to parking their bicycles along the two sides of the catwalk. The number of parked bicycles is counted up to a few hundred daily. With the limited space on the catwalk, the congested bicycle parking will cause blockage to pedestrian movement and will pose safety concern to people when the catwalk is overcrowded with people during rush hours.”
The only solution proposed for this problem by the CEDD is to:
“Carry out reclamation of the foreshore area between the existing seawall at the public library and the catwalk of the Yung Shue Wan ferry pier to provide about 400m2 of land for cycle parking.” 
Living Lamma was founded in May 2009 in response to the degradation of Lamma’s environment, some of which can be blamed on shortfalls in planning and design. Before the group was registered, some residents wrote to the government with concerns about the planned CPA. Some of these individuals are now members of Living Lamma. This report lays out the main objections of Living Lamma members to the government’s plan and offers alternative solutions.
Objection One: The proposed CPA will not solve the problem
Studies from overseas have shown that for cycle parks to be used by the public, location and design are critical. Bicycle Victoria (www.bv.com.au) advises:
“Consider where riders want to park not necessarily where it is thought they should park.”
Convenience is important. Bicycle Victoria states, “20 metres may be the difference between a well-used facility and one that is ignored in favour of a bannister, pole or tree.” We could equally add “or ferry pier railing” here.
Living Lamma believes that the proposed layout for the CPA is flawed. Cyclists are unlikely to want to park their bikes towards the library. People are likely to park their bikes as close to the ferry pier as possible. The mass of bikes near the ferry pier will cause obstruction to other cyclists looking for parking spaces. In a short period of time, people will go back to using the pier railings in favour of being blocked into the CPA.
Objection Two: The proposed CPA ignores current bottlenecks
One of the justifications for building the CPA is that bike parking on the pier is congested and blocks traffic. The pier is 6 metres wide. Even with bikes parked straight out from the railings, the minimum clearance is 280cm. If parked more carefully on both sides, the clearance is over 4 metres. This is in comparison with Main Street, which is between 160cm and 370 cm (see Appendix I). Currently the bottleneck coming from and going to the ferry is not the pier where the bikes are parked, but the stretch below the hotel where the path is only 235cm wide.
The proposed CPA does not address the problem of the bottleneck and will in itself make the problem worse as the bikes will be placed at one location near the existing bottleneck and not staggered along the pier.
Objection Three: The budget could be used more effectively
HK$18 million has been earmarked for this project. Under the current plan, it will cost approximately HK$50,000 to park each bike. This compared with a cost of around HK$800 per bike available to local authorities in the UK.
Lamma is in desperate need of government funding to improve the environment, provide better community facilities and to beautify the harbourfront. There are alternatives to the government’s planned CPA, which would not only address the problem of cycle parking, but also cut down on congestion and help to improve the overall appearance of the pier area.
Objection Four: Environmental impact
The proposed CPA concretes over the last remaining section of unspoilt coastline in Yung Shue Wan harbour. Though this area does not contain anything that would prevent the project from going ahead under the standards of the government’s environmental impact assessment, Living Lamma believes that natural rock formations and other geographical features should be taken into account. Once destroyed, such natural assets are extremely difficult, or impossible, to regain and the very essence of what makes an area attractive can be lost forever.
There is no doubt that significant investment is needed to improve the Yung Shue Wan harbour. However, it is important that plans are integrated with the existing landscape and geographical features that make Yung Shue Wan appealing to residents and visitors.
Objection Five: The CPA will create yet another eyesore
The proposed CPA is not part of integrated plan to beautify the harbourfront. In fact, we believe that it will in itself create another eyesore – a concrete platform with “Type 2 railings” and tubular metal bike stands that will soon become rusty.
Currently, when residents and visitors step off the ferry pier they are met with one eyesore after another. Aside from the bikes, the railings are unpainted. There are derelict, rusty signs and an ugly concrete substation. Though there is a nice garden at the end of the pier, this is obscured by ugly railings and (much of the time) banners.
The “welcome wall” is currently under repair and Living Lamma will continue to work with government and members of the community to make this an attractive feature. Then there is the illegal platform opposite the post office, which Living Lamma members would like to see removed or converted and made attractive.
Some Examples of Current Eyesores on or near the Ferry Pier
Objection Six: Government track record in minor works projects
The government’s track record in implementing minor works projects does not provide any confidence that the CPA will be anything but an eyesore. Projects are not designed for a rural village setting. Standard materials are used that are more appropriate for an industrial estate than a residential area. Examples of these have been included in Appendix II.
The plans for the CPA show no evidence of design. There is no landscaping and the existing geographical features are not included in the plans. The government plans to use “type 2 railings” along the seafront, but gives no drawings of what these will look like. These will be in the direct line of sight of people coming off the ferry and so it is important that they look attractive and are made of a suitable material that will either be maintained regularly or will not rust.
Living Lamma is not opposed to the creation of a CPA. However, we are opposed to the creation of a concrete platform between the library and ferry pier, which we believe will not solve the problem of cycle parking and will in itself become an eyesore. We have suggested two alternatives to government.
Alternative 1: Proper Bike Parking Along the Ferry Pier
The most obvious alternative would be to replace the railings on the ferry pier with bike racks, thus forcing all bikes to be parked neatly. In December 2009, Living Lamma surveyed the pier and found 258 bikes parked along the railings – 138 on the north side and 120 on the south.
The railings are approximately 84 metres long on each side, with a total of 168 metres that could be converted to bike parking. Bikes are placed about 50cm apart.
Using stands that are used by Bicycle Victoria (www.bv.com.au) , 336 bikes could be parked neatly along the railings.
There are a number of designs that could reduce the projection of the bikes onto the walkway. Here are some ideas.
- Extending the rack over the water as used on the pier at Jaffa, Israel
ii) Cyclepod with seating and optional shelter. For Lamma, this could be modified to remove the top section to allow a view of the sea.
We have provided government other simpler design for bike racks, but so far none of our suggestions have been incorporated into their plans.
According to the CEDD, bike racks cannot be placed along the pier so that the bikes overhang. They say that the construction of the ferry pier is such that the additional weight from such bike racks would cause the pier to split down the middle.
We believe that modifying the pier is a good alternative. However, it does not address the problem of the illegal structure or the bottleneck caused by the narrowing of the path at the end of the pier.
Alternative 2: Locate the CPA in the Area of the Illegal Platform
Living Lamma has also asked government to consider converting the existing illegal platform opposite the post office, or removing it and placing the CPA in this location.
The coastline along this stretch from the ferry pier to the post office has already been destroyed. Even if the illegal structure is removed, it is likely that this stretch will still be ugly unless it is redesigned.
Extending the area where the illegal platform is currently to the ferry pier will provide a platform that is longer and less deep than the one proposed on the library side of the pier. This will allow people to get their bikes in and out more easily. The path could be widened to ease congestion along the narrower section. The platform could be landscaped on the side facing the pier so that it looks attractive to people coming off the ferry.
To date, government has said that they are considering the alternatives that we have proposed, but we see no evidence of them doing so.
We believe that this solution offers a good alternative. It has the potential to not only solve the problem of bike parking on the pier, but also allows for the widening of the path to ease congestion at the bottleneck in front of the hotel. It would also fix the problem of the eyesore created by the illegal platform. The plan put forward by the government will not do this.
This option will still force cyclists to park some distance from the pier and so there is a danger that people will still prefer to put their bikes on the pier, rather than use the parking area. However, as this location provides a longer, more easily accessible site that allows a flow through of people and bikes, it is hoped that properly designed facilities will make this the preferred option for cyclists. We would also like to see this area properly landscaped so that it does not create an eyesore. Further redevelopment of the ferry pier could include some bike parking down one side only that could be integrated into the design of the CPA and offer people the chance to park closer to the ferry, should they wish to do so, without causing obstruction.
We have attached drawings to illustrate our ideas (see below). These are part of beautification plans for other areas of the village, which have also been presented to government (See Appendix III).
Living Lamma would like to share this experience with other groups around Hong Kong that are interested in improving rural design. We would like the government to engage landscapers, architects and sustainability managers when it carries out projects on Lamma and take more effort to engage the views of the residents as early as possible in the planning stage.
If you would like to comment or lend support, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposed Location for CPA
Proposed Layout for CPA
Section of Proposed CPA showing widened path, CPA and fisherman’s walk
Appendix I: Yung Shue Wan Choke Points
Yung Shue Wan Path Clearance – Ferry Pier and Main Street
Appendix II: Recent Government Funded Eyesores on Lamma:
- The Nullah at Yung Shue Long Valley.
This first picture shows the government’s initial attempt at installing railings. These were removed after complaints from Living Lamma members and other residents.
The next picture below shows the drainage channel and railings now. Still no attempt has been made to make the channel look attractive, despite it being in the middle of a residential area.
This is the start of the drainage channel at the base of the Yung Shue Long valley. No attempt to integrate the design with the natural environment, despite adjacent land being zoned for agricultural use
This shows the nullah on the harbour front. Again, no attempt has been made to make it look attractive, despite this being the main route through the village for residents and tourists.
- The Sitting Out Area
This shows the sitting out area before government “improvements”.
And this shows the area after government “improvements”.
After 6 months of disruption and the removal of seating and shade (which is in scarce supply in Yung Shue Wan), the government erected this clock.
There are many beautiful village clocks in the world that could have been used. This clock is widely disliked by members of the community and is not appropriate for use in a rural setting.
Living Lamma selected designs for the beautification of Yung Shue Wan
- The most updated drawings are under copyright to the Port Works Division of the Civil Engineering and Development Department. Sketch no. PW-SK10-020 as at 26.8.2010. ↑
Author: Jo Wilson
Designs: Marcus Swetnam
Additional Research: Alan Sargent
Photos: Living Lamma Members