Why was Walk DVRC Ltd established?
Since the year 2000, professional, community and concerned citizen groups have advocated for a more liveable Central Business District through the pedestrianisation of Des Voeux Road Central.
Through the years, more than HK$10m has been spent on research, trials, community engagement and education in an effort to change Hong Kong’s current urban planning model so that our city values people over cars.
In 2017, Walk DVRC Ltd. was formally formed as an NGO to promote walkability and a less-polluted, more inclusive city through placemaking activities. Walk DVRC makes presentations, conducts workshops and charrettes, organizes events and holds competitions to inform, collaborate and partner with the public. The goal of these engagements is to showcase the real benefits of pedestrianized and connected streets.
Why is making the city more walkable important?
A walkable city provides favorable conditions that promote socio-economic growth and development and enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of citizens. Walkable cities not only contribute to health and wellbeing, they also attract talent and investment.
Pedestrianisation schemes that focus on improving connectivity and facilitating social activities encourage governments to be bold and implement wider walkability schemes that could help join up the areas and stimulate urban revitalisation.
Why was Des Voeux Road Central chosen?
DVRC was once the waterfront where dried seafood vendors, chop makers, traditional costumes and general Chinese entrepreneurship was evident. Now it is impossible to find and appreciate these cultural landmarks because DVRC is a place to pass through, not a destination. The city’s Central district has not received any major investment in the past 20 years and the upgrading of the physical environment and public facilities is now crucial.
Here are the major problems that DVRC currently facing:
- Compare the statistics of DVRC, Connaught Road Central (CRC) and Queen’s Road Central (QRC). The air pollution of CRC and QRC is near 4,000 µg/m3 while DVRC is over 5,000 µg/m3, the most polluted road on the north shore of Hong Kong Island
- Traffic speed in Central is extremely slow. Vehicle speed is 10km per hour vs. a human speed of 5km per hour vs. tram speed of 8km per hour.
- The pedestrian space has now been marginalized around DVRC. Sidewalks have narrowed to make space for private cars, taxis and buses.
- No trees for shade. No public seating. No access to free drinking water. Public amenities are not easily accessible.
- Directional signage is confusing. Infrequent road crossings lead to jaywalking. People on foot must fight for space, which has become dangerous for the elderly and children.
- Unfriendly building facades dwarf walkers and pollution from vehicular emissions abounds.
The trial closure of a small section of DVRC in 2016 demonstrated that it was possible to make DVRC a pedestrian and tram precinct. Know more: https://walkdvrc.hk/events-2/
What is the government’s point of view on making Hong Kong a walkable city?
A strong policy focus on walkability set out in the 2017-18 Policy Address, has made Walk DVRC not only a viable project, but also a highly favourable project for an efficient and people-friendly street environment in the CBD.
“Walk in HK” is an initiative that the Transport Department has commenced to formulate planning and design standards based on pedestrian-first principles for developing Hong Kong into a walkable city. Central and Sham Shui Po are the two sites identified as study areas.
Furthermore, Hong Kong 2030+ also provides a strong policy basis to be creative and innovative in promoting physical and functional integration within the Central and Western Districts and Central Business District 1 (CBD1) by enhancing walkability, connectivity, accessibility, permeability and cyclability. DVRC is an ideal location to pilot walkability improvement schemes to revive the deteriorating CBD1.
What is the achievability and timescales of the DVRC schemes?
“Sheung Wan Music”
Other parts of the world have carried out place-making pilot schemes to improve local walkability, and “Sheung Wan Music” is exactly what “Xingde” has implemented in Hong Kong. The section of Des Voeux Road from Morrison Street to Hillary Street will be closed to vehicles, and pedestrian priority will be implemented within 90 days. understand more:https://walkdvrc.hk/news/
Xingde International Design Competition
“Xingde” launched an international design competition in April 2018, recruiting professional teams of urban planners, architects and designers from all over the world to create a 1.4-kilometer-long Des Voeux Road Central business district from Pedder Street to Westport City. Revitalized and reimagined, designed as an iconic world-class public space. understand more ://walkdvrc.hk/design-competition/
What can I do to support these meaningful projects?
You may start to integrate walking into your daily routine.
- Walk more than you need e.g. get off one stop earlier to walk
- Walk further than you normally do for daily activities
- Walk to your meetings instead of taking public transport or driving
- Have walking meetings – efficient, stimulates creativity and more refreshing than boardroom meetings
From time to time, Walk DVRC needs help from the community in the form of interns or volunteers. You may be one of our volunteers at an event or a participant in our market research to voice out your opinion.