Friday, August 18, 2006

Of Walking and Picnics

I was slightly surprised and encouraged last night because according to TVB the government has put forward a proposal to relieve the congestion in Causeway Bay. What's more, the proposal actually makes sense and would be started and completed before June of 3006.

They want to connect the Sogo Department store with the Hennessey Center across the street with a 50 meter wide subterranean pedestrian tunnel. They also want to widen the sidewalks above ground and limit motorized traffic. I'm not sure how they plan to limit motorized traffic but it is something that needs to be done. My guess is that in part, what would happen is that there would be fewer places to exit the road and that there would also be no street level pedestrian crossings. That might actually help quite a bit.

Here is the question that they didn't address. If they make the sidewalks wider and have a covered, therefore dry subterranean walkway, how are they going to control the masses of domestic helpers who use the streets for picnics on weekends?

Is this underground walk-way going to become an underground picnics area from 7:00AM until 10:00PM every Sunday?

Don't get me wrong, I have some sympathy for the helpers who don't really have many options for things to do on a day off. However, the all day sidewalk picnics in Causeway bay are already a major source of congestion. Not to mention the amount of trash and litter they leave behind every week has sanitation crews working all night to clean Victoria park and the surrounding streets.

These picnics are also, I believe a major source of ill will between the helpers and the locals. Once setup the picnickers won't move an inch and often take up all but the narrowest of lanes down the center of the sidewalk. Some of the groups of helpers can actually be somewhat intimidating when they get their Islamic chants going in rhythm with a big drum.

I'm sure that the local businesses have lost customers each Sunday because people don't want to walk over several 1000 Indonesian and Filipinos to get to the store.

A 50 meter wide tunnel and more trees would, it seems to me, only exacerbate this problem unless there a strictly enforced "No Picnicking" policy.

I don't know that there are any good solutions to this problem. However, while I have some sympathy for the helpers I do think that the congestion on the week-end in Causeway Bay could be controlled by simply enforcing loitering laws. In some respects it is too easy for the maids to set up their picnics on the sidewalk. If they were ticketed then they would find somewhere else to go.

Perhaps they might find several somewhere else's which would spread the congestion out and make it less obvious. Perhaps, a charitable group like the Jockey club for example could open the infield of the Happy valley Race Track on days when there is no racing That would be a place that is easy to get to, is safe and has access to toilets and water.

Anyway, I don't think they will solve the congestion problem until they solve the Sunday-sidewalk-picnics problem

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Non-Picnicing Blogger

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