HarbourLoop: Proposal to Create Iconic New Cycle and Walking Network in Hong Kong Multidisciplinary architecture and design studio Lead 8 - a team with a passion for creating liveable cities, have developed the HarbourLoop, avision to transform the Hong Kong waterfront into an iconic 23 kilometre urban cycle, running and walking network.
HarbourLoop will be Hong Kong’s first mobility network prioritising zero emission modes of transit, connecting Hong Kong to Kowloon in a continuous loop.The route exploits the legacy of the city’s world famous Victoria Harbour.
Two infrastructure interventions will connect Hong Kong Island and Kowloon – for the west harbour crossing, a cable car transports users from Central to a new deck overlooking West Kowloon Cultural Districtin a dramatic 1.5 kilometre journey more than 60 metres above the harbour.
The east of Victoria Harbour is crossed by acycle, running and walking bridge,with a span of 500metres, linking the Museum of Coastal Defence and the Shau Kei Wan waterfront with the village of Lei Yu Mun,traversing from hill to hill as a new gateway to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, with an overall density of some 6,300 people per square kilometre, yet the waterfront remains largely underutilised.
On top of becoming an exciting attraction for tourists, over 1.7 million of the city’s residents will be able to reach HarbourLoop within a 10 minute walk. The seamless route, and generous 6metre width will accommodate those commuting by bike and on foot as well as for leisure, turning the fragmented harbourfront into a real, and accessible asset.
Simon Blore, Director and co-Founder of Lead 8 says, “We believe there is a pressing need to invest in more people-focused multimodal networks to complement and connect Hong Kong, and promote a healthy and active means of moving around. HarbourLoop applies lateral thinking, Hong Kong’s home-grown design and engineering expertise, and an investment in public realm and transport technology that could lead to the creation of an efficient, flexible and world-class network – a first for Hong Kong.”
The environmental, economic and health benefits of cycling, running and walking notwithstanding, HarbourLoop is an efficient use of Hong Kong’s limited space – layering the city to create more social spaces and amenities in some underutilised areas.
Hong Kong is the one of the best places in the world for people to travel around, according to an Urban Mobility Index report last year, but falls behind in cycle and walking paths and air quality.Hong Kong only has 187 kilometres of cycling paths for every 1000 square kilometres of land, compared to 4,041 in Stockholm, 3,502 in Amsterdam and more than 280 in Singapore.
The city does not do well in air quality indicators either. The annual average transport-related emission of nitrogen dioxide stood at 50mcg per cubic metre, and there was 50mcg per cubic metre of particulate PM10 in 2014. Government figures show the roadside nitrogen dioxide level has increased by a quarter since 2006.
These factors feed into world liveability rankings. Hong Kong plunged 16 places from 17th last year to rank 33rd in the world this year, according to ECA International’s Global Liveability Index. The HarbourLoop proposal aims to not only support zero emission modes of transit, but make it more comfortable, accessible and convenient to be healthy and active in Hong Kong.
Simon Blore continues, “Building on our experience of urban masterplanning and creating vibrant transit-oriented developments worldwide, we wanted to put some of our award-winning thinking into our home city, by developing the HarbourLoop, which can be used by everyone and will ultimately make Hong Kong a more liveable place.”
Associated benefits include the regeneration of underutilised sites next to highways and activating proposed waterfront initiatives; creating new ‘hubs’ with ample bike parking, changing facilities and showers, the integration of community meeting places and much-needed waterfront restaurants and cafes.
HarbourLoopoffers development opportunities for businesses, particularly where the route intersects with offices and existing residential and leisure districts.
Chris Lohan, Director and co-Founder, Lead 8: "Cities where you can walk, run or cycle, rather than drive, are more appealing places in which to live and work – I’ve been a keen cyclist for a few years and get up early most days to cycle before work, rather than to work. This is the fundamental difference between Hong Kong and other cities. To improve the quality of life for all and encourage a new generation of healthy, active residents, we have to make it safe and accessible. Urban density provides us with an opportunity, HarbourLoop is a lateral approach to finding space in a congested city."
The HarbourLoop study team will continue to further develop the masterplan, and the proposalwill be presented to the Hong Kong Planning Board, as well as to developers and contractors with specialist experience.