Open High Island Reservoir Road to cyclists?

Here's an email that was circulated to sustainable tourism group members, in response to message re Ride of Silence. I don't cycle here, but opening High Island Res Road to cyclists would seem great idea to me.
Maybe we could also follow this up with something that would be of lasting benefit: a major push to open up the Water Works¡¦ High Island Reservoir Road in Sai Kung Country Park to cyclists (it is currently an offence to ride one¡¦s bicycle on this road). This would rank as one of the most scenic bike rides in the world. I have heard that the Water Works¡¦ objection is that if they open up the road, someone might throw cyanide in the water, which is nonsense (if a nutter wants to do that, he¡¦ll do it anyway, whether or not cyclists are allowed to use the road ¡V he/she will just walk in along the road). Furthermore, there is a precedent ¡V Water Works have opened up Plover Cove to cyclists. I have taken this as far as I can. At a meeting of the AFCD¡¦s Country Park Visitor Liaison Group I outlined plans: Family bike rides at certain times of the day Cycling Clubs at other specified times to enable them to practice at speed. The Assistant Director of AFCD gave his support, as did the Sai Kung Police. It was then down to the Hong Kong Cycling Association, who were present at the meeting, to send the formal letter of request to the Water Works Department. This they failed to do and ignored all further e-mail correspondence. Perhaps the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance might like to get in touch with me with a view to taking this further? Maybe the new ride could be named after one of the killed cyclists as a lasting memorial?
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I cycle and I know High Island well. Indeed I live near Plover Cove and often cycle this route. They have recently barred access to the last winding part.
Many people have covetted the High Island road for many different purposes. Rally cars, cyclists, motorbike racing. I have heard how the course is perfect for almost everyones favourite activity.
I consider them all suicidal.
The road would need to be closed off. Probably at weekends, when these activities take place. Restricting access to a large section of Hong Kongs best country park. Car and Bike racing is unsuitable at the level that exists in asia. just too dangerous on this road.
Currently the road allows public transport, any cyclist on this winding route is a dead man. Anyone without cycling expererience wouldn't last 10mins.
Taxi's love the long route, and most love their cars. they race this route for fun, especially at night. Hikers see and hear them coming, cyclists may be concentrating on something else.
If we stop the public transport and go back to what we had previously, then the delivery truck for villagers would still need access. Much safer. Instead of hundreds of deaths a year, we would have one or two.
Plover Cove is a straight and open road which is barred to all forms of traffic. Government vehicles only.

Believe me I covet that High Island road more than most. It is spectacular, and I would love to ride it. But I just cannot see a way of making access freely available safely.

Thanks for the comment, Simon.
More emails on the issue here from sustainable tourism group:
[quote]
My understanding of the Man Yee Road situation is that it a WSD service road that is sub-standard for public traffic. To open it to public traffic worthy, it has to be upgraded. Upgrading may mean widening, gradient adjustment, passing places, parking spaces, lightings, speed limits, barriers, embankments, etc⋯ a lot of money, a lot of work, a lot of environmental degradation within CP precinct. The police also said it has difficulties enforcing traffic laws in a substandard private road. Not being a public road lessens the liability of WSD or its road manager, the AFCD as Country Park Authority. The villages surrounded by the SKE Country Park have been pressing that the road be upgraded and opened. This issue has also been linked to the issue of opening the Pak Tam Chung Gate. Even with the lifting of the gate, the two service roads on both sides of the reservoir would remain closed, hence very little to be gained unless they are done in tandem. The Wong Shek and Ko Tong branch road is already at par with public roads, I¡¦m afraid only needing unwanted street lights to diminish accidents. I cannot see how the DWS and DAFC would agree to take responsibility of allowing the public to ride bicycles in their private road. I would propose creating a bicycle trail between Tui Min Hoi and Ho Chung through Pak Kong and Tai Chung Hau, to be located mostly at the fringe of Ma On Shan Country Park, depending on the topography.[/quote]

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[quote]I have driven along the road ¡V legally, with the relevant pass. The road is not sub-standard, it is in very good condition ¡V it is a real road. Taxis are allowed to use it. In fact, they used to drive so fast along the road that experimental speed bumps were placed along the road to slow them down. If the road is safe enough for taxis, then it is safe enough for mountain bikes. The Sai Kung Police supported the idea. It¡¦s perfect ¡V emergency vehicles can drive in and rescue anybody in difficulty ¡V it is a contained area, so easy to manage. I suggest we take out the taxis and speed bumps, and allow in bicycles. A scenic route, dedicated to bicycles, would be marvelous. Locals and tourists alike would love it.

I will dig out my original correspondence on the matter and circulate it.

I think the more ideas for cycling routes that we can consider, the better! There is a dearth of safe places ¡V and certainly nowhere in Sai Kung Country park where I live where I can take my children for a family bike ride, which saddens me. I grew up in Singapore ¡V my greatest joy was going off on my bike. I would like my kids and everybody elses¡¦ children to have the same opportunity. I would like to help turn this around! There is a lot we could do ⋯[/quote]

from HK Outdoors contributor Charles Frew:

[quote]So as not to 'restrict' access to those wanting to reach Long Kei Wan (elderly, kids etc) by taking away the 'taxi' run, WSD/AFCD should be encouraged to provide an electric trolley shuttle bus service, taking 'users' to either Siu Sai Wan/Pagoda or to the end of the High Island Reservoir; a small fee should be levied.
This would negate the use of taxis, yet still allow access to these points. The terrain of the service road is not overly hilly and therefore should not impede the buses performance. The start point of such a service could either be at Pat Tam Chung or at the top of the roundabout.
Perhaps this solution provides controlled safe access and still allows use of the road for mountain biking and hikers as well, thus reducing the need for taxis.[/quote]

prompt response to Charlie's idea:

[quote]That is a good idea but I doubt that they will do anything like that. There is insurance, and other liability issues. Perhaps the idea should be to keep motorized vehicles off the road for safety issues. If they did, perhaps electric cars or at least non-polluting vehicles.[/quote]

Post edited by: Martin, at: 2007/05/12 12:52

More emails have followed, inc:
[quote]This is a real concern. I know that the reason some of the District Council members want the barrier down is to open up the reservoir area to (IMHO - unsustainable) tourism. Contrary to what some of the villagers in the Country Park wanted, these guys don't mind if the barrier is just moved to Tsak Yue Wu because they want to be able to start a number of ventures up Man Yee Road. One of them had the idea of the electric bus - which I think is not a bad idea (I'd rather a regulated electric bus than the taxis that have almost run me over a couple of times while walking along that road) but others were a little wilder. [/quote]

and, again from Charles Frew:

[quote]Please note there is already a regular minibus (white) service from Sai Kung town Centre to the Pagoda/Siu Sai Wan (cost $15). Not sure who runs this or how a permit was obtained? How does WSD regulate permits for these roads?

Having one company controlling the electric buses will certainly curb the traffic from taxis, but to satisfy all user groups, some mode of transport will have to be in place, otherwise objections will be received by WSD, and it only takes one objection for them to close the case and we are back to where we started.
Either all transport is banned (excluding residents), or a regulated shuttle service put in place. Biking could then perhaps be opened up with even a possible mountain biking route around the whole reservoir.
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