Walk DVRC, an NGO, has proposed a trial run to turn a 100-metre stretch in Sheung Wan into a car-free zone from 10am to 10pm daily between next April and June.
Success of the plan – dubbed the Sheung Wan Fiesta – hinges on approval from the Transport Department and police, and ultimately a nod from the District Council. An impact assessment of the project – which covers an area between Morrison and Hillier Streets along Des Voeux Road Central – is still under way.
“The objective is to promote a walkable, inclusive and culturally vibrant Hong Kong,” said Markus Shaw, chairman of Walk DVRC and former head of the conservation group WWF-Hong Kong.
This is one of several projects the group has been pushing as part of a year-long campaign to turn a 1.4km stretch from Pedder Street to Western Market into a pedestrian and tram-only area.
But there are concerns that the proposal will be a repeat of the weekend pedestrian zone along Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok. The street was reopened to traffic in July amid complaints from residents and shopkeepers over noise pollution.
Shaw said measures would be implemented to manage such problems, including rules on permissible activities, as well as the commissioning of a security company for street management.
“[The closing of] Mong Kok was a tragedy; what went wrong was a lack of proper street management, and we need new regulations, even. But, instead of looking at the problem, they let the traffic back in. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Central and Western District Councillor Kam Nai-wai said he was supportive of the plan in principle but would like to see measures implemented by the group.
“A 90-day trial is fine because it doesn’t affect too many residents and road traffic flow is relatively low,” he said. “My biggest worry is that with uncontrolled freedom of activity, it could become another Mong Kok and this will give a bad first impression, deterring further support.” He urged the group to consult the council earlier to allow more deliberation.