Hong Kong, 25 September 2016 – Today from 10am to 4pm, a 200-metre section of Central’s Des Voeux Road Central (from Man Wa Lane to Morrison Street)was being transformed into a temporary pedestrian and tram precinct, as Very DVRC – co-organised by Clean Air Network, Walk DVRC (formerly known as DVRC Initiative) and Hong Kong Public Space Initiative; and curated by Very Hong Kong – experimented with over 14,400 visitors the possibilities of public space in Hong Kong, building a major milestone for the initiative which was first proposed in 2000. As a result of this temporary pedestrian and tram precinct, air pollutant level in Des Voeux Road Central has dropped to lower than neighbouring streets and benefited surrounding merchants with a 92% growth in weekend consumer traffic, which is usually low at weekends.
Very DVRC aims to inspire the public to recognise the right of way and to reflect on Hong Kong’s car-oriented planning approach by engaging them with a wide range of activities curated to explore the possibilities of public space if vehicular traffic gives way to pedestrians. Curated by Very Hong Kong, 47 collaborators have hold activities in the site community such as street sports and outdoor cinema, during which designers and architects restructured the space with awe-inspiring architectural interventions.
As part of this history-making social experiment, the Very DVRC team conducted on-site measurements at several points to evaluate if a pedestrian and tram precinct on Des Voeux Road Central would improve the air quality of the surrounding area by reducing vehicular traffic. The team measured the average concentrations of Fine Particle PM2.5 on Connaught Road Central (CRC), Des Voeux Road Central (DVRC) and Queen’s Road Central (QRC). It is found that DVRC’s PM2.5 level was 26.3µg/m3, 41.8% and 40.3% lower than those of Connaught Road Central and Queen’s Road Central, which were 37.3µg/m3 and 36.9µg/m3 respectively.
Table 1 – Average fine particle (PM2.5) levels
|Des Voeux Road Central||26.3 µg/m3|
|Connaught Road Central||37.3 µg/m3|
|Queen’s Road Central||36.9 µg/m3|
Table 2 – Pedestrian and vehicular traffic comparison of DVRC, CRC and QRC
|Average hourly vehicle volume(Statistics from a 2014 study by City University)||Average peak pedestrian traffic in 15 minutes(Statistics from a 2014 study by City University)|
|Des Voeux Road Central||0 / (300)||1230 / (640)|
|Connaught Road Central||1285 / (6750)||Not measured|
|Queen’s Road Central||596 / (500)||Not measured|
As indicated by the statistics above, vehicular traffic was partially diverted from Des Voeux Road to Connaught Road Central and Queen’s Road Central. During the event, the average PM2.5 concentration level of DVRC was approximately 40% lower than that recorded at Connaught Road Central and Queen’s Road Central, proving that a pedestrian and tram precinct would help cutting roadside pedestrians’ exposure to PM2.5.
The temporary pedestrian zone also marked a significant growth of pedestrian traffic, which was 1230 in 15 minutes on average – 92.19% higher than the usual 640 on weekends and holidays.
Very DVRC opening ceremony was successfully hold this morning and guests of honor has made speech to the event:
“Very DVRC has undergone more than a decade of negotiation between the government and different parties. We wish the event could be held regularly in the future,” said MR. Ian Brownlee, Fellow Member of The Hong Kong Institute of Planners.
“The great achievements of Very DVRC are gain through the joint effort by the government and local parties. We wish the government and citizens could continue to work hand in hand to build a better city to live in,” said MR. Raymond Lee, JP, Acting Director of Planning Department.
“The Environmental Department has been devoting efforts to the regulation diesel vehicles to reduce air pollution. Very DVRC explores the possibilities of car-free zone and provides a good reference for the Department,” said MR. Mok Wai Chuen, JP, Assistant Director of Environmental Department.
“Before it happened, pedestrianization seems to be a mission impossible. However with the effort from different parties, it is really not that difficult to put it in place. We wish such meaningful event could be held regularly in the near future, ” said MS. Maggie Brooke, Founder of Very Hong Kong.
“We would like to sincerely express our gratitude to all visitors today as well as the 300 volunteers, Hong Kong Tramways Limited, HKSAR Government, Very Hong Kong and 47 collaborators, who have made this dream come true. We wish the exploration of public space could extend to Pedder Street next time and more citizens could participate in this event,” said MR. Patrick Fung, Walk DVRC.