About Walk DVRC
Walk DVRC Limited is an NGO that is a partner to the government, local retailers and the community in pedestrianisation and placemaking initiatives. Walk DVRC engages the public to promote walkability and liveability with the goal of creating a healthier, sustainable, and more inclusive city. The organisation advocates for a fairer sharing of public space between pedestrians and cars across Hong Kong. Walk DVRC consults, educates and undertakes research on the creation and management of vibrant streets in the areas of Traffic Management, Street Management, Health Benefits, Economic Benefits, Social Benefits and Governance. By making streetscape and lifestyle changes on Des Voeux Road Central as our initial project to improve walkability, we inspire Central and Hong Kong to create more accessible, convenient and pleasant public spaces.
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Public support for walkability and pedestrianisation initiatives is high. Evidence comes from a number of sources including the media, global interest in designing a New Central in Hong Kong and numerous stakeholder engagement exercises.
In addition, two pieces of market research support the creation of a more walkable and liveable Central that is connected to surrounding cultural and historical sites as well as to the harbour.
Creating a Dynamic Public Realm
The Nielsen Company, a leading international market research firm, was commissioned to conduct a study on the 76 ground-floor businesses that will be affected by the Sheung Wan Fiesta. The research has quantitative and qualitative components with two objectives: to educate/persuade and to solicit opinions/feedback for the purpose of capturing data that can be used to demonstrate positive support of the project to stakeholders. Over 60% of respondents are in favor of and want to participate in the Fiesta.
• It represents a unique initiative in Hong Kong
Challenging Hong Kong’s Retail Competitiveness
An independent piece of market research carried out by Colliers International, “Challenging Hong Kong’s Retail Competitiveness: Exploring Hong Kong’s Digital Retail Trends and Drive to Pedestrianisation,” cites that:
• Pedestrian precincts play a significant role in future retail development
Our Signature Projects
The Sheung Wan Fiesta is a replicable “proof of concept” for the creation of a vibrant public space for the entire community.
The Sheung Wan Fiesta project is a 90-day closure to vehicular traffic of a two-block stretch of DVRC, from Western Market to Hillier Street. Trams continue to run and cross streets remain open. The Fiesta will be held from 10 am to 10 pm, to enable deliveries outside these hours.
The site will be curated and provide seating and shading, entertainment and local, artisanal food. It will also include cultural and heritage walk tours to surrounding areas. A tested traffic arrangement that identifies viable traffic diversions, loading/unloading solutions and bus stop relocation will be put in place. Extensive street management policies will be implemented. Considerable time, money, manpower and stakeholder engagement has already taken place to ensure that this project succeeds.
The Quick-wins aims to enhance the pedestrian environment by providing convenient crossing and widening of pedestrian holding areas at critical locations. A social experiment that places emphasis on pedestrian facilities over that of vehicles. The scheme will upgrade the pedestrian environment on Des Voeux Road Central (DVRC), in a total of nine crossroads, along Li Yuen East Street to Morrison Street. Pedestrian crossings will be introduced; or extended, or turned into light controlled pedestrian crossings (e.g. Morrison Street and Cleverly Street crossing). Existing traffic light time settings would be adjusted to optimize pedestrian crossing time.
The Quick-wins will provide safer pedestrian crossings and more pleasant pedestrian roads for the neighborhood residents and workers while promoting walkability that encourages residents in establishing a healthy lifestyle. In the longer term, we hope to create a better public open space by partially pedestrianizing DVRC. Given the ongoing pandemic and social distancing restrictions it would even be more pertinent to provide for more spacious pedestrian facilities.
The Hong Kong Institute of Planners (HKIP) proposed a pedestrian precinct in Central to the government in conjunction with Civic Exchange, City University of Hong Kong and transport consultants MVA (HK) Ltd. Hong Kong civic groups including Clean Air Network, Designing Hong Kong, Hong Kong Public Space Initiative, supported by Knight Frank, The Conservancy Association and Friends of the Earth (HK), formed the Des Voeux Road Central Initiative in 2015.
Walk DVRC Ltd. Established
- Sept 2016 – A one-day closure to vehicular traffic a 200m stretch of the road was successfully completed
- Jan 2017 – Walk DVRC Limited was set up as a formal NGO on 26th January 2017 to spearhead the Walk DVRC initiative
- Dec 2017 – Planning of The Sheung Wan Fiesta began. It is a trial schemes that will close a two-block stretch of DVRC, from Western Market to Hillier Street, to vehicular traffic for 90 days. At the same month, Walk DVRC participated in UABB to promote and educate walkability and encouraging flexible public space usage on DVRC
- Apr 2018 – Walk DVRC International Design Competition launched
- Aug 2018 – Section 88 status granted
- Sept 2018 – Walkability Study conducted by HKSAR names Central as one of the study areas
- Nov 2018 – Released the result of The Sheung Wan Fiesta Market Research done by Nielson Hong Kong
Numerous projects launched to raise awareness
- Jan 2019 – Colliers International Hong Kong Research Report named Sheung Wan Fiesta and talk about the pedestrianisation Des Voeux Road Central (DVRC)
- Mar 2019 – International Design Competition Digital Exhibition launched and Roving exhibition were moving around the city
- Jun 2019 – Transportation Impact Assessment for the Sheung Wan Fiesta completed
- Nov 2019 – Public health research completed and studied the perceptions of the respondents on air pollution along DVRC and its connection to health, especially respiratory related diseases
- Jan 2020 – Forum for a New Central, co-hosted with Colliers International HK gathered a number of disciplines and industries to learn more about the benefits of creating a Business Improvement District in Hong Kong’s Central district
- Feb 2020 – Walk DVRC Press Briefing of the research on walkability and public health
- Feb 2020 – Walk DVRC commissioned Social Policy Research (SPR) to undertake a survey to gauge perceptions of air pollution and its connection to health, especially respiratory related diseases, as well as to understand participants’ experiences with traffic along DVRC
- May 2020 – Social experiment on social distancing
- May 2020 – Walk DVRC was featured in Zolima CityMag, interviewees included Board Chair Markus Shaw, EO Jennifer Walker Frisinger and steering committee member YY Pong
- Jun 2020 – Walk DVRC Ltd. undertakes a large-scale public engagement exercise to test it’s Sheung Wan Fiesta concept
- Jan 2021 – Walk DVRC will have a new leader to work with all of you to turn Hong Kong into a walkable city. We will unveil more details for 2021 in the next few posts
The Walk DVRC project depends on help from its collaborators and supporters and Walk DVRC Friends, a group of people who are passionate about enhancing Hong Kong’s environments. Architects, urban planners, NGOs, social enterprises, the business sector, walking enthusiasts and many others have also shown their support for the Walk DVRC initiative through the co-organiziation of events, research projects and other educational community projects. (In alphabetical order)