BikeToGather at Garden Hill, was an event held by Bike the Moment in September, which was postponed due to adverse weather conditions. Most bicycle tracks in Hong Kong are for recreational purposes, but there is barely any for commuters in the urban area. Especially in the rainy summer, it is unpleasant to ride a bike on the busy and polluted downtown roads. Despite the weather, Bike the Moment never cancelled their regular event – BikeToGather – since they started it six years ago. It is where Bike the Moment began, and how they gather bicycle enthusiasts. It is just like the headlight on the bike that leads them in finding a way out for urban cycling in Hong Kong.
Bike the Moment is a local urban cycling group founded by Hughes and Queenie in 2012. Through organizing different kinds of cycling events, they gather people of all background, no matter if they are cyclists or not, to promote the concept of urban cycling. BikeToGather was their first event. At first, it was just for fun. They found it exciting to try road cycling on Hong Kong Island at night, so they came up with the idea to look for buddies online. It turned out to be an unexpected success that ignited the hidden passion for cycling in many people’s DNA. Besides BikeToGather, crossover events were also held with other parties. Some co-organizers weren’t even cyclists. “Variety is what we want to achieve. Instead of bicycle training, we hope to make our events multidimensional for people from different backgrounds.” Hughes gave an example of a pop up bicycle market, where they modified bikes to set up stalls, and passersby just came and joined. In this way, urban cycling culture can be spread over the communities.
Cycling as a means to commute in Hong Kong might be infeasible in many people’s eyes. There is no cycling tracks or infrastructure along the way, no shower facilities in offices for morning riders, nevertheless, none of these seem to be Hughes’ primary concerns. “A well-developed cycling network takes time to be built, it has become my lifelong career. Paving the way for urban cycling with my own bike, I find it very meaningful.” Indeed, Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was Copenhagen, the world’s top bike city. Since the 1960s, frequent traffic accidents, the oil crisis and decades of continuous public protests, all contributed to the development of today’s bike cities. For Hong Kong, the right timing and social conditions may be yet to come, but achieving the cityscape of Copenhagen is not impossible. “Create a vibe first,” Hughes thinks software is more important. Let the government understand the demand of the citizens, hardware will then follow.
To develop a cycling network that is usable in people’s daily life, multiple factors need to be considered. Otherwise, blindly paving cycling tracks will only replicate the pointless existence of “the shortest cycling track” in Tin Shui Wai. It is good to have more cycling tracks, but considering the time and cost required to plan and build them, a better solution is to open up existing pavements. Hughes pointed out that the facility we actually need may just be a simple signage for cycling. As part of the Kai Tak Development, ‘Greenway Pilot Project’ opens up an existing footpath at Kwun Tong Promenade for cyclists. “Just put up a signage, it’s as simple as that.”
Moreover, the same applies to roads. Despite being a stakeholder of the road, cyclists often have to give way. Hughes has in mind a picture in which roads are added with cycling signages to raise the awareness of drivers, therefore, coordination between vehicles and bikes is made possible.
“Pave the way by biking the moment,” Hughes said once again. It might be difficult for the general public to participate in the urban planning process, but Hughes hopes that everyone is empowered to initiate their own bicycle trip.
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