Room to roam as road closes for day

Local | Phoenix Un 26 Sep 2016

A 200-meter stretch of Des Voeux Road Central from Man Wa Lane to Morrison Street was closed off to vehicular traffic from 10am to 4pm yesterday and turned into a tram-only, pedestrian area with booths for people to stroll around.

Instead of car lanes on two sides of the tram line on the stretch of road, artificial grass carpets and booths were laid out for pedestrians to walk and play games in the Very Des Voeux Road Central event co-organized by Clean Air Network, Designing Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Public Space Initiative.

The area was divided into many sections, with some allotted for children to play games including wooden puzzles, sliding boards and skateboards.

Some people sang and played their musical instruments as booths had their own themes such as introducing the history and changes in Central and Western District and organizing guided tours to spots such as Graham Street Market.

Lau Sau-tat, social work supervisor of the Hong Kong Caritas, said: "The most serious problem with Central district is that finance and business are all around, and there is no space for people to have lives here.

"The public space we want is a place we can link ourselves with others."

Co-organizer Walk DVRC said the concept of a pedestrian zone on Des Voeux Road could finally be put into practice after the idea was proposed in 2000.

Clean Air Network hopes to make the pedestrian zone permanent to improve air quality in the district.

Its chief executive, Patrick Fung Kin- wai, said the opening of several MTR lines will help reduce people's reliance on roads and vehicles in the future.

Miss Lam, who brought her daughter and two children of her relatives to the scene from Kwun Tong, said: "It's good to have such a place on busy streets like this.

"I brought the children here so that they won't stay at home and play video games all day long."

A man surnamed Tam, who lives in Sai Wan, brought his daughter so she could play the games on the street. But he said the space was too narrow, and it would be better to hold the event on Chater Road.

He appreciated the event's green concept but is opposed to making it permanent.

"I live nearby and understand the situation here," Tam said.

"People from other districts don't understand the traffic here, and are too idealistic in hoping for a greener environment."

Mr Leung, who brought his son to Sheung Wan from Eastern District, said: "Road users and owners of shops nearby must be opposed to this idea. I believe it would be good to have it once in a while."

Mr So, an architecture graduate who lives in Sheung Wan, was disappointed.

"I thought there would be artificial grass all along the zone, but I found it was as chaotic as the July 1 march. What a pity."

He believes the organizer should have better planning to promote the concept of pedestrian zones. "But there are singers here and an orchestra there. What do they have to do with a pedestrian zone?"

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