Tuesday, March 22, 2011

North on Nathan Rd: Kowloon, Hong Kong

Do you like my new license plate?  In Hong Kong, you can buy your vehicle license plates from stores on the street, and personalize it however you like.  This is the size for motorcycles, but you can get thinner sized ones as well.  They are highly reflective and perfect for night riding on a bike.  I noticed many people noticing it while I was out the other night.  I think more cyclists in Hong Kong who commute (or want to commute) should buy their own bicycle license plate to demonstrate the true viability of using a bike as transport.  Maybe seeing the same plate on a bike that they see on cars, the general view towards bicycles in Hong Kong will change and begin putting them on more equal footing with motor vehicles.
Last Friday night, despite the dark and light rain, I decided to take my bike with me when I went to watch the unicycling team practice.  My other options were to take a taxi or the MTR (subway).  I don't even live here, and I'm already tired of taking the MTR.  Hong Kong prides itself on the efficiency of the transportation infrastructure here.  It is true that you can access many areas by the trains, but if you have to make one or more transfers to different trains to get to where you need to go, that can get quite tiresome.  There is much walking and many stairs involved to get to the trains and between them.  Sometimes the distance to be walked is far as well.  This adds time and energy.  Not only that, you are often walking against and among a very large crowd of people, that makes it feel at times like 'swimming upstream.'  I prefer not to take the taxi just because it is usually not cost effective, and doesn't always save that much time anyway.  

So I took my bike, and I'm glad I did.  I decided I would rather feel the freedom of being on my bike riding down the middle of a busy street in the open air where I could have more space on all sides of me and not have to contend with the crowded masses on the trains and sidewalks.  It felt good to be comfortably pedaling instead of driving my heels into the pavement.  The drizzling rain was actually refreshing, and helped to clear the highly polluted air a little bit.  

You can see in the video above that traffic really did not pose that much of a problem.  Going up Nathan was a fairly smooth ride, and again I rode like a vehicle, meaning when I needed to make a right turn, I prepared for it by moving to the right lane to do so.  It was a bit of a tight spot in the median area while waiting to make the turn though.  Again, I communicated as much as possible with drivers by trying to make eye contact and use hand signals.  

Instead of being an extra problem, and adding more stress, using my bicycle to get to where I was going actually rejuvenated me.  The buses, trains, and taxis here are fairly efficient and definitely get you where you need to go, but the trade off is bad air, large crowds and an uncomfortable static traveling environment.  I'd rather be on the bike.


thomas said...

Two things.
1) Amazing license plate.
2) We need to get you a decent camera video camera.

Lim Soo 林蘇 said...

Going to different platforms in MTR is tiring..
if you have tried the tube(underground) in London, you will be more tired.