Since the eventual clearance of the Occupy Movement protest zones (Mong Kok – Nov 26 , Admiralty – Dec 11 and Causeway Bay – Dec 15) the air quality has begun returning to its “normal” levels from before the movement started, which is worse than the WHO standards (24 hour average: 25 µg/m3).
CAN conducted PM2.5 measurements at the three cleared sites on Dec 15 and 16 to compare the air pollution levels with the data collected on Oct 1. Below are the readings:
The result of CAN’s readings proves that the air quality has indeed deteriorated; in table 3, all three roads that were once car free have increased its PM2.5 readings by over 40%.
CAN’s CEO Kwong Sum Yin says, “People who used to walk across the occupied roads, especially Harcourt Road, now feel unnatural to see cars and other vehicles driving along it. It flipped people’s understanding of roads: it should not only be for cars but for people also. We need not “return to normal” with congested roads and filthy air. ”
In hindsight, the occupy movement has provided a perfect scenario showing the potential results of creating pedestrian zones. The air quality has improved and the psychological and physical benefits are also evident. Commuters who walked to work instead of using their usual mode of transport (MTR, bus or taxi) were shown to be more adaptive with their route and travel mode (cycling, etc.) as well as being less stressed.
She suggested that Des Voeux Road Central is a road long begging to be pedestrianized, and is a perfect example of the “Street Canyon Effect”, where the street is flanked by buildings on both sides creating a canyon-like environment that traps emissions from vehicles inside for a longer duration.
“Now, with exceptionally positive results from the unplanned “Pedestrianized-like-zone”, the Government cannot afford to turn a blind eye to this opportunity,” she said.