End of the road for Mong Kok pedestrian zone

Top News | Amy Nip 12 Jul 2018

Hong Kong will bid farewell to one of its long-time attractions as Mong Kok's renowned pedestrian zone will cease to exist from August 4.

The narrow Sai Yeung Choi Street will be reopened to traffic after 18 years, due mainly to complaints against noises produced by street performers, many of whom are elderly women who sing using large speakers.

The Yau Tsim Mong District Council passed a motion on May 24 to terminate the pedestrian zone.

The end date was specified in a document sent from the Transport Department to the council ahead of a meeting today.

Resuming traffic in the area was deemed feasible, but pedestrians may have to rub shoulders with each other.

The number of pedestrians in the zone has been declining, with about 14,800 people stopping by every hour - marking a decline of around 25 percent from the level in 2014.

Based on the latest figures, it is estimated that when the zone reopens to traffic, 43 people will walk along a meter of the pedestrian pavement every minute.

The density means pedestrians can still walk at a "normal" speed in one direction. But they won't be able to quicken their pace or go in the opposite direction.

The Transport Department said most residents supported the termination of the pedestrian zone.

A survey of Mong Kok residents showed that 97 percent of the 154 poll respondents supported the pedestrian zone's elimination.

Sai Yeung Choi Street South and several other nearby streets had been turned exclusively since 2000 into pedestrian zones from Monday to Sunday.

Noise created by street performers, hawkers and salespeople have triggered thousands of complaints.

The zone has become infamous for dozens of "aunties" and "uncles" who sing traditional songs, creating nuisance to pedestrians and residents.

Its use has been restricted from 4pm to 10pm on Saturdays, and from noon to 10pm on public holidays.

amy.nip@singtaonewscorp.com

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