FAQ

Walk DVRC Ltd is a NGO leading the Walk DVRC initiative.

While the current government realizes that making the walking experience pleasant is the key to encouraging people to walk, it is felt that the government’s approach is still overly conservative and restricted to improving the linkage between places. Walk DVRC Ltd aims to promote walkability in holistic urban planning and design in Hong Kong, particularly on its effect on health, quality of life, wellbeing, safety and sustainability, and to educate the public on such issues to make Hong Kong a more walkable, liveable and loveable city.

Walk DVRC Ltd will conduct research on the impacts and benefits of walkability, including but not limited to health, mobility, safety, efficiency, use of public open space, social inclusion, climate change and urban integration and publicise these  findings to relevant bodies and individuals in Hong Kong and other parts of the world.

Walk DVRC Ltd will also encourage exchanges and co-operation between relevant entities and individuals in Hong Kong and elsewhere with an aim to reducing  the physical, social and institutional barriers that limit walking activity.

While connectivity is about making an area more accessible, making an area more walkable involves a people-first planning and design mentality. Areas that are designed with people in mind instead of cars encourage people to stay, explore, play, relax and enjoy. The important difference is that connectivity focuses on making an area more accessible; walkability focuses on placemaking to capitalize on a community’s assets.

The HKSAR Government supports a more walkable Hong Kong. In the HK2030+ strategy the Government highlighted the importance of planning for a liveable, high density city “to retrofit densely populated areas and optimize development in new development areas.” The Government also recognised that improving walkability is the cornerstone for developing an integrated city that enhances urban mobility and reduces travel needs.

More importantly, making a city more walkable provides people with the choice of the most accessible, convenient and zero-cost option to travel across the city – walking. Making a physical environment more convenient, pleasant, safe and engaging to walk in will not only help promote green mobility, it will also help to promote physical and functional integration of the city, especially if citizens can travel easily to their work, businesses, public amenities, neighbourhood facilities, recreational opportunities, nature etc. Only through improving walkability of a city will people regularly choose walking as a mode of transport, thus encouraging a paradigm shift.

Cities that are repeatedly featured in the World’s Liveable City Index credit being highly walkable as one of the reasons that  a city is so popular. A highly walkable city attracts talent and investment.

It is not difficult to understand why. Unlike in previous generations, living in the city centre is no longer undesirable. In the past, there was a tendency to think that only the poor lived in city centres as they could not afford to live in more comfortable, remote and more expensive neighborhoods.. However, with the help of regeneration and redevelopment, city centres around the world are being revived to breathe new life into once-decayed city cores. The younger generation wants to live in city cores to be close to the buzz of city activities and benefit from the ease of transport. As the need to commute long distances is reduced, the desire to live close to public transport or travel on foot to save on cars and fuel costs increases.

This sharp change in mindset helps built environment professionals and governments worldwide to rethink urban planning and design practices. The conclusion is that  a piecemeal approach to redevelopment can result in pockets of old and new redevelopment areas that are often isolated and not well-connected. 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. 

Popular tourist cities are very walkable and encourage people to explore the city. Fundamentally, a walkable city also provides favorable conditions that promote socio-economic growth and development and enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of citizens.

Making a city more liveable is the primary purpose for Mayors and Governments worldwide in adopting the walkable city model.  Some of the key benefits include:

  1. Reduction of cars and congestion
  2. Better quality of life & wellbeing
  3. Better air quality
  4. Better connectivity and legibility
  5. Improved pedestrian safety/ walking environment
  6. Reduced stress & improved public health
  7. Social inclusion, particularly for people with reduced mobility, elderly and children
  8. More public space/ encourage social interaction/ enable diverse activities in public space
  9. Increased footfall & stimulate local economy
  10. Higher productivity
  11. Reduced urban heat island effect & combating climate changes
  12. Socioeconomic growth & sustainability

There are a number of reasons that this stretch of DVRC is a favourable location to become a pedestrian and tram precinct:

  1. It is the most polluted road on the northern side of the Hong Kong Island due to the street canyon effect.
  2. Although highly connected, DVRC suffers from poor walkability due to congestion, the poor walking environment and the out-of-scale urban environment
  3. Ideal location to test – CBD fringe frames DVRC as core for facelift
  4. “Contained” space – easy review & monitoring
  5. Walk DVRC provides policy basis and evidence
  6. Community engagement already started by Walk DVRC
  7. Lessons learnt from temporary closure – DVRC Event 25th September 2016

Nonetheless, there are numerous transformative infrastructure developments in the district in the pipeline, including the development of the Central Harbourfront, the opening of the Central-Wanchai Bypass and various new MTR rail lines. DVRC’s problems will be further exacerbated with the on-going redevelopment of many private and government sites, including Murray Car Park, Hutchinson House, Central Market, and the former Central Police Station.

The Government has focused on revitalisinng the Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay areas in the past five years. Central has not received any major investments in the past 20 years and the upgrading of the physical environment and public facilities is now crucial. 

Walk DVRC Ltd aims to transform DVRC, the section between Pedder Street to Western Market, into a pedestrian friendly, shared space that prioritises pedestrians and trams over vehicular traffic. Through the gradual pedestrian environment improvement schemes we aim to illustrate DVRC’s potential in becoming a more pedestrian friendly area through clever traffic management schemes and urban design changes. We aim to achieve this goal through two main ways.

Quick wins:
Walk DVRC Ltd and the Hong Kong Institute of Planners are working together to promote quick wins to enhance the pedestrian experience in the area. Walk DVRC and HKIP, in hand with the District Council and the Transport Department, will explore whether highway improvement measures such as traffic calming, timed crossing facilities and landscaping could be implemented in the area to improve the overall pedestrian experience.

Phased changes to turn DVRC into a shared space:
We aim to introduce the changes in phases to allow the local community and businesses to get used to the changes. This will ensure any arising issues and concerns are examined and resolved before further changes are put in place.

The Walk DVRC project was first promoted in 2000 as a desirable improvement scheme for DVRC. However, a stronger policy focus on walkability, as set out in the 2017-18 Policy Address and Transport and Housing Bureau’s Walk in Hong Kong initiative, 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.

Furthermore, Hong Kong 2030+ also provides a strong policy basis to be creative and innovative in promoting physical and functional integration within Central and Western District and Central Business District 1 (CBD1) by enhancing walkability, connectivity, accessibility, permeability and cyclability. We believe that Walk DVRC is an ideal location to pilot walkability improvement schemes to revive the deteriorating CBD1.

Government

The Government is supportive of making Hong Kong more liveable and walkable. However, they are concerned about the traffic impact that will be brought about by the changes in road arrangements and traffic diversions. They are also worried about pedestrianizing such a large stretch of road as there are street management implications. Walk DVRC are commissioning evidence-based studies to verify the feasibility of our proposal and to ensure that we can resolve the concerns and arising issues as a result of the changes in traffic arrangements in the DVRC area.

Local community, including local businesses

Through the DVRC Event on 25th September 2016 and our engagement exercises, we found that about 50% of the local communities, including local businesses, are supportive of the Walk DVRC initiative. They feel that the current environment is unfriendly for the local community and businesses, especially in light of the congestion and air pollution problems. Businesses in particular would like to attract more trade as fewer people now visit DVRCs ancillary roads as the  main stretch of DVRC is unpleasant to navigate.

Interestingly, most of the local communities and businesses accept the status quo and believe that nothing can be changed to improve the environment that they live, work, trade, rest and socialize in everyday. Walk DVRC Ltd is keen to educate the community and individuals on the benefits of walking and its positive effects on the quality of life, wellbeing, health, mobility, efficiency and safety through community empowerment and research exercises. They will help enhance the community’s understanding of the positive benefits of a more walkable environment and how they will impact on their daily living. This will also empower them to participate in our community workshops to plan how to improve DVRC to address the community concerns, their needs and their aspirations for the future of DVRC, and the Central Business District.

Businesses

Businesses along DVRC are generally supportive of DVRC. Some of the concerns they have raised include the possibility of bus diversions, deliveries, car parking and how the proposed changes will affect their footfall and trade, including an increase in anti-social pursuits. However, they are excited about how public realm improvements can give DVRC a well-deserved facelift to improve the image of the area and to attract more trade and footfall. Walk DVRC Ltd is working in partnership with Civic Exchange, the leading think tank in Hong Kong, to undertake a Street Management Study that will explore the best practices and lessons learned from case studies worldwide. The possibility of retrofitting DVRC to become more pedestrian and tram centric will be studied to develop a new planning model for a more non-car centric Hong Kong.

Wider public’s views

The DVRC Event on 25th September 2016 was attended by over 14,000 people. The popular event  illustrates the public's desire to experience and enjoy a car-free environment in Hong Kong. It also strengthened Walk DVRC Ltd’s vision to transform DVRC to showcase what a walkable street environment could do to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of a city and its citizens.

We are pleased that the media has been very supportive of the Walk DVRC initiative.

Aside from the positive reporting of the Walk DVRC Event on 25th September 2016, the wide coverage of the October 2016 Walk21HK International Conference has helped spread the walkability concept in Hong Kong. The incoming Chief Executive Ms Carrie Lam mentioned that the Government is keen to promote walkability to make Hong Kong more accessible. The former Director of Planning, K.K.Ling even said that if DVRC can go ahead it will be a project of international significance. These positive messages have strengthened Walk DVRC’s image as a pioneer project in improving the walkability and liveability of Hong Kong.

The work of external parties have also helped back our case. Civic Exchange’s Measuring and Improving Walkability in Hong Kong and Unopened Public Space studies - released in December 2016 and February 2017 respectively - are the first studies in Hong Kong that properly assessed the quality of Hong Kong’s urban environment. These also stimulated media interest in how we can improve the urban environment in Hong Kong which, in turn, encouraged the public to explore what are the potential solutions in improving the public realm and public spaces in the city. 

Our proposal is pragmatic and is designed to be implemented in stages to introduce small, incremental changes to the street environment.

At the moment, we are working with the Hong Kong Institute of Planners to promote quick-wins to improve the hostile street environment in DVRC. We hope that the gradual public realm improvements will attract more people to walk, explore, rest and stay in the DVRC area.

Walk DVRC Ltd will also work with other parties and consultants to develop solutions for short-, medium- and long-term improvements in the DVRC area. Detailed traffic assessments will be carried out to review and monitor the situation before further changes are introduced. 

The extent to which Hong Kong could become a non-car centric city is dependent on the choices people make when they travel.

85% of the general public use public transport everyday. Hong Kong is one of the cities with the highest rate of utilization of public transport in the world. With such a high utilization rate it is difficult to imagine that Hong Kong is still suffering from traffic congestion daily, especially in areas with high concentration of commercial and retail businesses.With political and policy support, walkability initiatives can be implemented in the long run.

In the past, building new infrastructure, such as the Central-Wanchai-Bypass, has been the Government’s way of tackling congestion in Hong Kong. However, major infrastructure projects are costly and bring significant socioeconomic and environmental impacts to society. It is also an unsustainable method in tackling congestion and increasing car use as land is a scarce resource in Hong Kong and there is no capacity to build an exponential amount of road space to deal with increasing car use.

Events such as the temporary closure of DVRC to demonstrate the feasibility of the Walk DVRC initiative, the Walk21 HK International Conference and Civic Exchange’s research on Walkability and Unopened Space all helped to enhance the Government, private sector, NGOs and the general public’s awareness of the inequality of space allocation as a consequence of the car-centric approach to city development.

Walking briskly for one mile in 15 minutes burns approximately the same amount of calories as does jogging an equal distance in 8.5 minutes.

The best way to lose weight by walking is to take a longer, moderately paced walk (40 minutes at 60-65% maximum heart rate). Shorter, faster walks (20-25 minutes at 75%-85% maximum heart rate) are best for conditioning the heart and lungs.

Did you know that you should walk for 30 mins or take 10,000 steps daily? It will do these to your body:

  • Improves efficiency of your heart and lungs
  • Burns body fat
  • Raises your metabolism so you are burning calories faster, even while you rest
  • Helps control your appetite
  • Increases your energy
  • Helps relieve stress
  • Slows aging
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Helps control and prevent diabetes
  • Reduces risk of some forms of cancer including colorectal, prostrate, and breast
  • Promotes intestinal regularity
  • Helps promote restful sleep
  • Strengthens your bones and reduces bone density loss in older women
  • Reduces stiffness in your joints due to inactivity or arthritis
  • Relieves most cases of chronic backache
  • Improves flexibility
  • Improves posture
  • Promotes healthier skin due to increased circulation
  • Improves mental alertness and memory
  • Spurs intellectual creativity and problem solving
  • Elevates mood
  • Helps prevent and/or reduce depression
  • Improves your self-esteem
  • Helps control addictions to nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and other drugs Helps with weight loos
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Makes you happy – stimulates release of endorphins, the natural feelgood chemical
  • Reduces stress
  • Make you smarter – increases blood flow through the brain
  • Improve academic or work performances
  • Improves balance & prevents falls in elderly
  • Meditation - give you a chance think and break
  • Helps PMS
  • Help manage Type 2 Diabetes
  • Increases lifespan

But you do actually! How you can integrate walking into your daily routine:

  • Walk more than you need to for your first and last mile e.g. get off one stop earlier to walk
  • Walk further than you normally do for lunch
  • Walk to your meetings instead of taking public transport or driving
  • Have walking meetings – efficient, stimulates creativity and more refreshing than boardroom meetings