How easy is it to walk around Hong Kong’s financial heart? An assessment of four different neighbourhoods has rated the walkability of Central district as “average,” despite its accessibility.

The report – which took two years to put together – was launched as part of the Walkability initiative from independent public policy think tank Civic Exchange. The organisation is offering recommendations along with a panel of experts on issues such as the government’s Hong Kong 2030+plan, with a goal to turn Hong Kong into the world’s most walkable, liveable city, it said.

Photo: Civic Exchange.

In the report, the group assessed four neighbourhoods to determine their walkability and to uncover areas of improvement.

The area studied in Central – between Connaught Road Central and Queen’s Road Central – scored highly in terms of accessibility and connectivity, but it lacked public amenities, and it was not very interesting to take a stroll in, the report found. Researchers decided if an area was interesting based on a visually attractive streetscape, a pleasant environment, variety of shops and restaurants, and whether the area is appealing to a variety of people.

Out of the four Hong Kong neighbourhoods it assessed, public housing complex Choi Hung Estate was found to be the most walkable.

It is a “well planned community with connected sidewalks; small block size with high permeability; clear signage; diverse, local shops; seating provision; traffic calming measures; traffic speed restriction; greenery; a high residential density and vibrant street activities that foster a sense of security; and good connection with the MTR station and other public transport facilities,” the report said.

Mong Kok. Photo: Flickr/David Yan.

The researchers rated Mong Kok and Kwun Tong poorly. Although Mong Kok is an interesting and attractive place for pedestrians due to its diverse shop fronts, the area has “major connectivity issues” and is too crowded for comfort and efficiency.

Kwun Tong was found to be “not walkable” as it was lacking in almost all criteria, but its recent gentrification and transformation into a commercial district offered opportunities for improvement, according to the report.

Good walkability can bring substantial benefits including better public health, higher property values, less travel time, greater accessibility, increased economic opportunities, and other environmental and social gains, the group said. Increasing walkability can also bring Hong Kong closer to the most liveable cities in the world including Vienna and Vancouver.

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Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.