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Thread: Pedestrianizaton: how Hong Kong does it

  1. #1

    Pedestrianizaton: how Hong Kong does it



    i was doing a bit of research for a column on mongkok and was pointed towards a website that outlines hong kong's pedestrianization scheme. since 2000, the transport department has been actively converting busy streets in HK's main retail neighbourhoods into full- and part-time pedestrian zones (and implementing traffic calming measures on other streets, too).

    one example is sai yeung choi street south, which you've seen in my mongkok thread. here's a few photos:







    the reason the lane markings remain is that sai yeung choi is actually a part-time pedestrian street, closed to traffic between noon and midnight on weekends and holidays, and 4pm to midnight on weekdays. at peak hours, this street has an astounding pedestrian flow of 16,000 people per hour!

    the street in 2000, before pedestrianization:



    the street in 2005, after the scheme was implemented:



    many other streets in neighbourhoods such as causeway bay (HK's main retail district), sham shui po (with a large street market and many cheap electronics stores at its heart), central (the main financial district as well as a trendy art, dining and nightlife area), etc. have been pedestrianized or traffic-calmed.

    what goes into deciding whether a site should be pedestrianized or not? here's what the transport department has to say:

    Factors considered in developing a pedestrian scheme:

    - Whether there are pedestrian capacity or safety problems
    - Public demand and land use, e.g. are there shops or places of interest which would attract pedestrians and tourists to the area?
    - Environmental and amenity considerations
    - Impact of pedestrianisation on vehicular traffic in the vicinity and the servicing of buildings


    take a look at the site. could similar criteria for pedestrianization be adopted for north american cities?

    http://www.td.gov.hk/transport_in_ho...strianisation/

  2. #2
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    My entire family would freak out there. They can't stand crowds.

    Good photographs thank you.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian LorenzoRoyal's avatar
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    Reminds me Third Street in Santa Monica but with a real life functioning. Would be fun to walk through there.

  4. #4

    huh?

    Would be like going to the mall EVERY DAY. It works well when you have 16k ped/hr. We only have 6 roads in our county that carry that many VEHICLES/day
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian spunky2's avatar
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    I've been to Hong Kong and the "pedestrianization" works. Without it, I can't imagine those areas functioning at all... for cars or pedestrians. It is just crazy... there are so many people that there is pretty much someone always bumping up against you. You have to put your personal space rules aside or you will go crazy.

  6. #6

    State Street in Chicago

    I vaguely remember that Chicago tried to pedestrianize State Street a few years back, as an attempt to lure customers back from Michigan Avenue's "Magnificent Mile." As I recall, it was a colossal failure, with the exact opposite effect. Nowadays, State Street has more mid-range shops while Michigan Avenue has glitzy, designer shops.

    Does anyone familiar with the situation know why pedestrianization worked in Hong Kong and not in Chicago? Perhaps America is just much more car-oriented, and suburbanites did not like having to park and walk long distances.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JohnHupp
    Does anyone familiar with the situation know why pedestrianization worked in Hong Kong and not in Chicago? Perhaps America is just much more car-oriented, and suburbanites did not like having to park and walk long distances.
    If I recall correctly, Hong Kong is one of the densest cities in the world and rather expensive. Lots of folks cannot afford cars. Heck, I think lots of folks cannot afford apartments of their own and get married while living with mom and dad. I read an article some years ago about their campaign to try to encourage young folks to try to have kids in spite of an utter lack of privacy. The tidbit that stands out in my mind is the Official advice to tape newspapers on the inside of the car window when making out in the car so you have privacy.

    But, you know, my memory isn't what it used to be. Maybe that wasn't about Hong Kong. Maybe it was about some other Eastern city. But I don't think so.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by JohnHupp
    I vaguely remember that Chicago tried to pedestrianize State Street a few years back, as an attempt to lure customers back from Michigan Avenue's "Magnificent Mile." As I recall, it was a colossal failure, with the exact opposite effect. Nowadays, State Street has more mid-range shops while Michigan Avenue has glitzy, designer shops.

    Does anyone familiar with the situation know why pedestrianization worked in Hong Kong and not in Chicago? Perhaps America is just much more car-oriented, and suburbanites did not like having to park and walk long distances.
    Maybe it was because Michigan Avenue had established appeal that could not be taken away? Once a place has enough momentum it can drain it from elsewhere. That glitzy shops are elsewhere says nothing about the success of pedestrianization of State Street. The only question that needs to be asked should be: is State Street better than it was before? If it succeeds in its own way, pedestrianization is a success. If pedestrianization drove pedestrians away, then that's a failure.

    In my opinion, there's no reason to block access to cars unless the streets are so crowded it's impossible to move around. I've experienced that in Midtown Manhattan and in my hometown's St-Catherine street. And by this I mean impossible to move around, you're just another dumb penguin marching whichever direction the herd is going. Somehow people still wanted to be there. In that case it's more important to make room for pedestrians than for cars, the cars can go somewhere else.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    Maybe it was because Michigan Avenue had established appeal that could not be taken away? Once a place has enough momentum it can drain it from elsewhere. That glitzy shops are elsewhere says nothing about the success of pedestrianization of State Street. The only question that needs to be asked should be: is State Street better than it was before? If it succeeds in its own way, pedestrianization is a success. If pedestrianization drove pedestrians away, then that's a failure.
    I just looked it up, and State Street was closed to cars in 1978, after many businesses had moved north, across the river. The migration was due to the bridges built over the Chicago River, making the near North side not so isolated. Perhaps it was diffusion of sorts.

    My purpose in explaining the difference nowadays between State Street and Michigan Avenue was to show that State Street has indeed maintained its retail character. However, I do not know how many of the stores there now were there during the time it was closed to cars and how many have moved back since it was reopened.

  10. #10
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    Great images!

    I loved your images and the schemes "before/ after" in page of Transport Departament of Hong Kong.

  11. #11
    it's a myth that pedestrianization doesn't work in north america -- there are dozens of highly successful pedestrianized streets. it only works when it's a response to a street's overwhelming success and popularity, not as a last-ditch attempt to prop up a dying retail street. that's what most people don't seem to grasp.

    If I recall correctly, Hong Kong is one of the densest cities in the world and rather expensive. Lots of folks cannot afford cars. Heck, I think lots of folks cannot afford apartments of their own and get married while living with mom and dad. I read an article some years ago about their campaign to try to encourage young folks to try to have kids in spite of an utter lack of privacy. The tidbit that stands out in my mind is the Official advice to tape newspapers on the inside of the car window when making out in the car so you have
    hong kong is probably the densest city in the developed world. apartments are of course small by suburban american standards, but they're no smaller than what you'd find in any other large, urban city. land prices here are extremely high, but probably no different than manhattan. the public housing system here is the largest in the world, so homeless people are virtually nonexistent. 3/5 of the cost of an apartment here comes from the land value, so when the public housing authority is able to use government-owned land for free, that means the units it rents and sells are significantly cheaper than privately-built ones.

    as for the government encourging young couples to have children: hong kong does have the lowest fertility rate in the world; it's mostly immigrants who are having children. still, that's not so different from the situation back home in montreal, which i believe has the lowest fertility rate of anywhere outside of asia.

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