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Drop in roadside air pollutants in Hong Kong thanks to government measures

I refer to Natalie Siu Hoi-tung’s letter on pollution in Hong Kong (“Air pollution impact can’t be ignored [1]”, January 27).

We can’t agree more that air pollution must not be ignored. The government has been taking action to improve air quality.

Locally, we have capped the emissions of power plants via statutory technical memorandums (TM) since 2008 and have been progressively tightening the caps. Since 2014, we have implemented an incentive-cum-regulatory scheme to progressively phase out 82,000 pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles by the end of 2019.

We have also deployed remote sensors to strengthen emission control for petrol and liquefied petroleum gas vehicles.

In July 2015, Hong Kong became the first Asian city to mandate ocean-going vessels at berth to switch to low-sulphur fuel. A new regulation was introduced in June 2015 requiring newly imported non-road mobile machinery to comply with statutory emission standards.

Regionally, we have been collaborating with the mainland authorities to reduce emissions in the whole Pearl River Delta region. Emission reduction targets have been set for key air pollutants for 2015 and 2020.

Joint efforts have been made in various scientific studies/programmes, for example, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Joint Regional PM2.5 Study, which will help provide a scientific base in formulating policies to alleviate regional air pollution.

The above measures have borne fruit. From 2012 to 2016, our roadside and ambient air pollutants have dropped by up to 30 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively, while the ambient level of ozone has seen a slight decline of 3 per cent. However, amid the improvement trends, there are still episodes of high pollution when pollutants are transported from the delta region under unfavourable meteorological conditions. Hence, we have to continue our efforts to improve air quality.

We will continue to review the emission caps under the TM for power plants and we are preparing to tighten the emission standards for newly registered vehicles to Euro VI.

We will collaborate with the mainland authorities to set up a domestic emission control area in the Pearl River Delta waters in 2019, such that all vessels in the area will have to use low-sulphur fuel. Furthermore, we have embarked on a review of the air quality objectives (AQOs) to identify new practicable air quality improvement measures and assess the scope of tightening the AQOs made possible by their implementation. The review will be completed next year.

Mok Wai-chuen, assistant director (air policy), Environmental Protection Department
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Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/article/2070763/drop-roadside-air-pollutants-hong-kong-thanks-government-measures

The surprising link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-air-pollution-alzheimers-20170131-story.html

With environmental regulations expected to come under heavy fire from the Trump administration, new research offers powerful evidence of a link between air pollution and dementia risk.

For older women, breathing air that is heavily polluted by vehicle exhaust and other sources of fine particulates nearly doubles the likelihood of developing dementia, finds a study published Tuesday. And the cognitive effects of air pollution are dramatically more pronounced in women who carry a genetic variant, known as APOE-e4, which puts them at higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

In a nationwide study that tracked the cognitive health of women between the ages of 65 and 79 for 10 years, those who had the APOE-e4 variant were nearly three times more likely to develop dementia if they were exposed to high levels of air pollution than APOE-e4 carriers who were not.

Among carriers of that gene, older women exposed to heavy air pollution were close to four times likelier than those who breathed mostly clean air to develop “global cognitive decline” — a measurable loss of memory and reasoning skills short of dementia.

While scientists have long tallied the health costs of air pollution in asthma, lung disease and cardiovascular disease, the impact of air pollutants on brain health has only begun to come to light. This study gleans new insights into how, and how powerfully, a key component of urban smog scrambles the aging brain.

Published Tuesday in the journal Translational Psychiatry, the research looks at a large population of American women, at lab mice, and at brain tissue in petri dishes to establish a link between serious cognitive decline and the very fine particles of pollution emitted by motor vehicles, power plants and the burning of biomass products such as wood.

All three of these biomedical research methods suggest that exposure to high levels of fine air pollutants increases both dementia’s classic behavioral signs of disorientation and memory loss as well as its less obvious hallmarks. These include amyloid beta protein clumps in the brain and the die-off of cells in the brain’s hippocampus, a key center for memory formation.

Using air pollution standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, researchers found significant differences on all those measures between those who breathed clean air and those exposed to pollution levels deemed unsafe.

In lab mice, breathing air collected over the 10 Freeway in Los Angeles led to brain concentrations of amyloid protein that were more dense and more likely to form dangerous clumps than breathing air that satisfied EPA standards before 2012. When lab mice were bred with a strong predisposition to develop dementia and its hallmarks, the brain differences between pollution-breathing animals and those that breathed clean air were starker.

In 2011, a study in the journal Lancet found that those who lived close to densely trafficked roads were at a far higher risk of stroke and dementia than those who lived farther away. A year later, a team led by Alzheimer’s disease researcher Dr. Samuel Gandy at Mt. Sinai in New York first established that air pollutants induced inflammation, cell death and the buildup of amyloid protein in the brains of mice.

The new study extends those findings.

Authored by geriatric and environmental health specialists at USC, the new study estimates that before the EPA set new air pollution standards in 2012, some 21% of new cases of dementia and of accelerated cognitive decline could likely have been attributed to air pollution.

There is potential legal significance to the researchers’ finding that women (and mice) who carried a genetic predisposition to developing Alzheimer’s disease were far more sensitive to air pollution’s effects. In devising pollution standards, the EPA is currently required to consider their health impact on “vulnerable populations.” The agency is also required to use its regulatory authority to take steps to protect those populations.

Air pollution has been declining steadily since the EPA promulgated new standards in 2012. But Dr. Jiu-Chiuan Chen, an environmental health specialist at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and the study’s senior author, said it’s not clear that even current standards are safe for aging brains, or for brains that are genetically vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.

The Trump administration has signaled it will look to scrap or substantially rewrite Obama administration regulations that tightened emissions from power plants and established tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars in an effort to curb climate change and reduce air pollution.

“If people in the current administration are trying to reduce the cost of treating diseases, including dementia, then they should know that relaxing the Clean Air Act regulations will do the opposite,” Chen said.

Dementia rates ‘higher near busy roads’

People who live near major roads have higher rates of dementia, research published in the Lancet suggests.

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38506735

About 10% of dementia cases in people living within 50m of a major road could be down to traffic, the study suggests.

The researchers, who followed nearly 2m people in Canada over 11 years, say air pollution or noisy traffic could be contributing to the brain’s decline.

Dementia experts in the UK said the findings needed further investigation but were “certainly plausible”.

Nearly 50 million people around the world have dementia.

However, the causes of the disease, that robs people of their memories and brain power, are not understood.

Population growth

The study in the Lancet followed nearly two million people in the Canadian province of Ontario, between 2001 and 2012.

There were 243,611 cases of dementia diagnosed during that time, but the risk was greatest in those living closest to major roads.

Compared with those living 300m away from a major road the risk was:

• 7% higher within 50m
• 4% higher between 50-100m
• 2% higher between 101-200m

The analysis suggests 7-11% of dementia cases within 50m of a major road could be caused by traffic.

Dr Hong Chen, from Public Health Ontario and one of the report authors, said: “Increasing population growth and urbanisation have placed many people close to heavy traffic, and with widespread exposure to traffic and growing rates of dementia, even a modest effect from near-road exposure could pose a large public health burden.

“More research to understand this link is needed, particularly into the effects of different aspects of traffic, such as air pollutants and noise.”

The researchers suggest noise, ultrafine particles, nitrogen oxides and particles from tyre-wear may be involved.

However, the study looks only at where people diagnosed with dementia live. It cannot prove that the roads are causing the disease.

‘Provocative’

“This is an important paper,” says Prof Martin Rossor, the UK’s National Institute for Health Research director for dementia research.

He added: “The effects are small, but with a disorder with a high population prevalence, such effects can have important public health implications.”

Prof Tom Dening, the director of the Centre for Dementia at the University of Nottingham, said the findings were “interesting and provocative”.

He said: “It is certainly plausible that air pollution from motor exhaust fumes may contribute to brain pathology that over time may increase the risk of dementia, and this evidence will add to the unease of people who live in areas of high traffic concentration.

“Undoubtedly living in conditions of severe air pollution is extremely unpleasant and it is hard to suppose that it is good for anyone.”

The best advice to reduce the risk of dementia is to do the things that we know are healthy for the rest of the body – stop smoking, exercise and eat healthily.

Buses are the main polluters, not private cars

http://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/article/2041617/letters-editor-october-31-2016

Ariel Kong (“Air filters won’t fix our city’s poor air quality”, October 28) says children need to understand the causes of pollution and “get into the habit of using public transport”. And adds that hopefully when they grow up they will choose not to buy a car and “we will have fewer polluting vehicles on our roads”.

If she would read the Environment Bureau’s March 2013 paper on pollution, “A Clean Air Plan”, she would know that private vehicles account for a tiny fraction of the pollution caused by commercial vehicles and buses, especially the old ones.

On page16, she would see a graphic and the numbers: for particulate pollution, goods vehicles produced 890 tonnes, buses 270 tonnes and private cars just 20 tonnes annually (1.72 per cent of the total for buses plus goods vehicles); for nitrogen oxides, the numbers show goods vehicles produced 36,950 tonnes, buses 9,640 tonnes and private cars just 890 tonnes (1.91 per cent of buses plus goods vehicles).

Overall, buses (about 20,000 of them) produce 11 to 14 times the pollution of the 500,000 private cars in Hong Kong. Buses do carry more people, on average, but commercial vehicles and buses remain the overwhelming source of Hong Kong’s roadside pollution.

That Ariel Kong misses this point shows the success of the transport lobby in obscuring it, and highlights the immorality of their continuing refusal to protect the health of Hongkongers, old and young.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels

British gallery owner Mark Peaker makes an art out of Hong Kong’s idling engine law enforcement

idling-engines

Avid letter writer to the Post tells why he shows no mercy when it comes to drivers who leave their engines running

Former banker and now art gallery owner Mark Peaker attributes the success of both his careers to his jovial nature.

But there’s one group of people to whom the British-born Hongkonger shows no mercy – the city’s perennial engine idlers.

“It’s my biggest bugbear about Hong Kong – these belligerent drivers who clog up the roads and won’t turn their engines off,” Peaker, who owns gallery 3812 in Sai Ying Pun, says.

“It has caused a lot of ill will in Hong Kong but it would be such an easy problem to fix.”

As an avid letter writer to the South China Morning Post, “Mark Peaker from The Peak” is noted for his regular commentary and complaints on discourteous road etiquette, which remains unchanged despite a bill being introduced in 2011 penalising those who idle their engines.

A community man who has called the city home for more than 12 years, Peaker canvasses almost daily for better enforcement of the Motor Vehicle Idling Ordinance over the habit that is not only a nuisance to those navigating the tight streets, but also makes Hong Kong smog levels all the worse.

“When you first arrive in Hong Kong, you’re not part of the community and you don’t really get invested in this sort of thing but then you adapt to your environment,” he said.

idling2

Peaker said he struggles to understand why enforcement on the matter is so limp. He has acquired a certain degree of notoriety among officers for his querying their enforcement tactics, adding with an air of exasperation that they do not seem to approach the matter as assertively as they ought to.

“I saw an officer being yelled at by a driver who was idling his engine, and I went up to him and said, ‘Why can’t you get this guy to turn his engine off?’,” he says, describing how the officer gave the shrill response: “Because he won’t listen to me.”

Born in Cambridge to a diplomat father and stay-at-home mother, Peaker was brought up in well-to-do west London. He moved to Hong Kong at a time when he felt his career as a banker was coming to a close.

A man of good taste and a natural networker, he found himself drawn to the art world, deciding more than seven years ago to set up a gallery of contemporary art alongside his partner, art aficionado Calvin Hoi.

He says what drew him to the city – the diversity, the hustle and bustle, the cityscapes and energy – are qualities that have him still very much in love with Hong Kong, despite its problems.

“Hong Kong has always fascinated me, I’m an urban dweller at heart – and this place has a lot to offer everyone,” he says, describing how he also enjoys hosting ¬acting classes for students as part of his community work with NGO Shakespeare for all, alongside sketching workshops in a separate pro bono project.

“There are so many positives, it’s such a vibrant place, and sometimes we lose sight of that,” he adds.

Idling law has had ‘zero effect’ on pollution level

Peaker is not alone in his crusade against the scourge of idling engines across Hong Kong. Since 2006, 8,337 complaints about idling engines have been made to the Environmental Protection Department, the body tasked with penalising offending drivers.

Despite this, only 201 fines have been issued by the department since the Motor Vehicle Idling Ordinance came into operation in 2011. The number of fines amounts to just 4.4 per cent of complaints made since that year.

And at HK$320 a pop, many consider the fines to be ineffective deterrents.

“The fine is ridiculous, and the belligerent attitude of the drivers means a lot of the time police don’t even enforce the rules,” Peaker said.

But he thinks the Hongkongers who deserve the blame for the lines of chugging engines across the city are the well-to-do who require their drivers to wait endlessly for them to appear.

“They have this self-belief that they’re so important they’re above the law,” Peaker said, describing how on several occasions he had seen drivers ignore inspectors and police officers asking them to turn off their engines.

“I have emailed Central Police Station, CEOs, [my local council representative] Joseph Chan, as well as directly emailing companies whose drivers abuse the law and numerous schools where [students’] drivers park illegally, idling their engines waiting to pick up on their morning runs.”

He describes an email flow that spans years.

Environmental campaigner at Clear the Air, James Middleton, agrees that the ordinance can hardly be described as a success. He said it had had “zero” effect on pollution levels.
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Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/1990214/british-gallery-owner-mark-peaker-makes-art-out?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Air pollution causes wrinkles and premature ageing, new research shows

Toxic fumes may be the primary cause of skin ageing in polluted cities such as London, New York and Beijing, scientists say

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/15/air-pollution-causes-wrinkles-and-premature-ageing-new-research-shows

Air pollution is prematurely ageing the faces of city dwellers by accelerating wrinkles and age spots, according to emerging scientific research.

The effects of toxic fumes on skin are being seen in both western cities, such as London and New York, as well as in more visibly polluted Asian cities and in some cases may be the primary cause of ageing. The pollution is also being linked to worsening skin conditions such as eczema and hives.

The scientific discoveries are now driving the world’s biggest cosmetics companies to search for solutions, including medicine-like compounds that directly block the biological damage. But doctors warn that some common skin care routines, such as scrubs, make the damage from air pollution even worse.

Poisonous air is already known to cause millions of early deaths from lung and heart diseases and has been linked to diabetes and mental health problems. But perhaps its most visible impact, the damage caused to skin, is just beginning to be understood.

“With traffic pollution emerging as the single most toxic substance for skin, the dream of perfect skin is over for those living and working in traffic-polluted areas unless they take steps to protect their skin right now,” said Dr Mervyn Patterson, a cosmetic doctor at Woodford Medical clinics in the UK.

“Unless people do more they will end up wearing the pollution on their faces in 10 years’ time. It is definitely something people now need to take seriously.”

Prof Jean Krutmann, director at the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Germany, said: “UV [damage from the sun] was really the topic in skin protection for the last 20-30 years. Now I think air pollution has the potential to keep us busy for the next few decades.”

Air pollution in urban areas, much of which comes from traffic, includes tiny particles called PMs, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and chemicals such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). “What is very clear is that PMs are a problem for skin,” said Krutmann, whose work has shown PMs increase age spots and wrinkles.

But one of the his newest studies showed NO2 also increases ageing. They studied people in both Germany and China and discovered that age spots on their cheeks increased by 25% with a relatively small increase in pollution, 10 microgrammes of NO2 per cubic metre. Many parts of the UK have illegally high levels of NO2, with London breaking its annual limit in the first week of 2016, with levels reaching over 200 microgrammes of NO2 per cubic metre.

Krutmann said other factors, such as UV exposure, nutrition and smoking contribute to ageing: “But what we can say is that, at least for the pigment spots on the cheeks, it seems air pollution is the major driver.”

“It is not a problem that is limited to China or India – we have it in Paris, in London, wherever you have larger urban agglomerations you have it,” he said. “In Europe everywhere is so densely populated and the particles are being distributed by the wind, so it is very difficult to escape from the problem.”

The accelerated skin ageing was seen in relatively young people and Patterson said: “If you are seeing these changes in middle age, these are worrying trends.”

Other recent research is summed up in a review paper in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science, which concluded: “Prolonged or repetitive exposure to high levels of these [air] pollutants may have profound negative effects on the skin.”

Understanding exactly how air pollution causes the skin damage is at an early stage, according to Krutmann: “We are just now dipping into the mechanisms.” But many of the pollutants are known to pass easily through the skin and cause a variety of impacts.

“These agents have a very irritating effect and once they get into the skin, they activate multiple pathways of inflammation,” said Patterson. “Some pathways ignite the melanocytes, which create far too much pigment and end up giving you unwanted sun spots.”

“Other pathways ignite messengers that make blood vessels grow, that’s what results in increased redness and potentially rosacea,” he said. “Also, if you damage skin, it goes into repair mode and excites enzymes which re-adsorb damaged collagen. When you have too much chronic inflammation, these enzymes remove more collagen than your skin can create. This produces skin laxity and that’s where fine lines and wrinkles come in.”

Dr Debra Jaliman, a skin expert based in New York City, says her patients are now worrying about the impact of air pollution on their skin, which she said can cause darkening of the skin and acne-like eruptions, as well as ageing.

“At the moment, there are not many products for prevention [of air pollution damage], however it may be a trend in the coming years as it becomes a much bigger issue,” she said.

Major beauty companies have begun their own research and are launching the first products formulated to battle skin damage from toxic air. Dr Frauke Neuser, senior scientist for Olay, a Procter and Gamble brand, has run studies showing significantly lower skin hydration in people living in polluted areas and lab studies showing that diesel fumes and PMs cause inflammation in skin cells.

Her team then screened for ingredients that could counteract some of the damaging effects. “We found niacinamide – vitamin B3 – to be particularly effective,” she said. “We have recently increased its level in several products by as much as 40%.”

Frauke’s work has also shown direct correlations between spikes in PM air pollution in Beijing and an increase in hospital visits by people with skin conditions including hives. “This indicates that not only skin ageing but also skin health are affected by air pollution,” she said.

L’Oreal, another cosmetics giant, published a medical study in 2015 showing that eczema and hives were more common in people in Mexico exposed to higher levels of air pollution, a conclusion supported by separate research in Canada. “The next step is to understand more deeply the environment-induced damages, in order to develop skin ageing prevention routines and products,” said Dr Steve Shiel, scientific director at L’Oreal.

Clinique, a big makeup brand, has already launched a sonic face cleansing brush it claims better removes pollution. “This [air pollution] is not going to go away. This is not a problem that is easily fixed,” said Janet Pardo at Clinique.

However, researchers are now working on medicine-like compounds that block the damage from air pollution from occurring in the first place. Krutmann’s lab helped Symrise, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of cosmetics ingredients, identify one, though the lab has no commercial stake in the product, which is called SymUrban.

“We found one molecule that can do the job,” he said, and it is now being registered as cosmetic ingredient. “In a few years from now I expect we will see cosmetic products that can specifically protect against skin ageing from air pollution.”

Patterson said it is possible for people to give themselves some protection now. “You don’t have to sit back passively and put up with it. You can take sensible, easy steps that will make a difference.”

“If your skin is really healthy, it is quite a good barrier,” he said, explaining that the top layer is like a roof – flattened cells like tiles separated by protective lipids.

“Certain skin care products are very disruptive to the surface of the skin,” he warned. “So a darling of the industry is retinoids, but these have a very profound negative effect on barrier function. Another darling of the industry is glycolic acid, but it is also very disruptive to the external skin barrier. People think these are good skin care, making the skin look smoother, but they are not helpful for the overall health of the skin barrier.”

Patterson is also dismissive of face scrubs: “The skin is trying its damnedest to make this wonderful defence mechanism and what do women and men do? They scrub the hell out of it. It just doesn’t make sense.” He said products that help repair the skin barrier, by delivering the pre-cursor lipids the cells need, are beneficial, as are ones that tackle inflammation.

“You can also put on a very nice physical shield in the form of good quality mineral makeup,” he said. “That produces an effect like a protective mesh and probably has some trapping effect, protecting against the initial penetration of particles. But you also need always to try to remove that shield in the evening, washing the slate clean every night.”

Effectiveness of Central-Wan Chai Bypass in easing traffic congestion

http://7thspace.com/headlines/528352/lcq16_effectiveness_of_central_wan_chai_bypass_in_easing_traffic_congestion.html

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Following is a question by the Hon Frankie Yick and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (June 22):

Question:

The public engagement document on the Electronic Road Pricing Pilot Scheme in Central and its Adjacent Areas has pointed out that one key consideration in assessing if electronic road pricing is a suitable solution for traffic congestion is whether a free-of-charge alternative route is available to motorists to bypass the charging area.The document has also pointed out that the Central-Wan Chai Bypass (CWB), upon its commissioning, will serve as a free-of-charge alternative route, making it convenient for motorists whose journeys do not start nor end in Central or its adjacent areas to make a detour around the charging area.Regarding the effectiveness of CWB in easing the traffic congestion in Central, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) as the Government indicated in February 2014 that upon the commissioning of CWB, it would be only five minutes’ drive from Central to Island Eastern Corridor at North Point, but now CWB cannot be completed in 2017 as originally scheduled and the number of vehicles in the territory upon the commissioning of CWB is expected to be higher than the original estimation, whether the Government has reassessed the time required for the aforesaid journey; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) of the authorities’ latest estimations of (i) the vehicular flows of CWB and its percentage in the design capacity of CWB, (ii) the reduction in vehicular flows on various major roads in Central as a result of the commissioning of CWB, and (iii) the effectiveness of CWB in easing the traffic congestion in Central, in the first five years upon the commissioning of CWB; and

(3) given that the Commissioner for Transport indicated in an article published in a newspaper on March 8 of this year that, as pointed out in past studies, CWB would render no direct help to easing traffic congestion on non-major trunk roads (e.g. Queen’s Road Central and Des Voeux Road Central) within Central, and at the time a large number of vehicles that needed to go into Central would still be using these roads, and the authorities therefore did not expect that the traffic congestion in the locations concerned would be much improved, of the details of the aforesaid studies and the data in support of the aforesaid conclusion?

Reply:

President,

The Central-Wan Chai Bypass (CWB) is a strategic route along the northern shore of the Hong Kong Island, aiming to alleviate the serious traffic congestion at Connaught Road Central, Harcourt Road and Gloucester Road.It is anticipated that upon commissioning, drivers whose origins and destinations are not in Central will no longer use the current major trunk road that runs through Central from east to west (viz. Connaught Road Central).However, those drivers whose origins or destinations are in Central will still have to use the non-major trunk roads (e.g.

Queen’s Road Central and Des Voeux Road Central).

The CWB project is a large-scale and complex road infrastructure project.It has encountered various difficulties and challenges since construction commenced in 2009 which affected the progress of works.Part of the construction of the CWB tunnel structure that has been entrusted by the Highways Department (HyD) to the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) to be carried out under the Wan Chai Development Phase II project (WDII), is part of the main trunk road of the CWB.The large metal object that was previously found at the seabed of the WDII works site caused suspension of reclamation and associated works in the area.After the reclamation works resumed in early July 2015, the CEDD notified the HyD of the revised site handing over schedule after the recommencement of works.The CEDD estimated that the section concerned of the CWB tunnel could only be completed for handing over to the HyD¡¦s contractor for carrying out the subsequent works in mid-2017.As such, the HyD anticipated that the related subsequent works like installing various electrical and mechanical facilities (including a traffic control and surveillance system, a tunnel ventilation system, a lighting system and a fire services system), laying road pavement and carrying out system testing and commissioning, could not be completed within the same year.In other words, the CWB could not be commissioned in 2017 as originally scheduled.The HyD together with their consulting engineer and resident site staff will continue to closely monitor the works progress of the CWB project and will duly assess the schedule of works with the aim of commissioning the CWB as early as possible.

My reply to the various parts of the Hon Frankie Yick’s question is as follows:

In the discussion paper PWSC(2009-10)52 submitted to the Legislative Council Public Works Subcommittee by the Government in 2009, the following details of projected volume to capacity (v/c) ratios (Note 1) in the morning peaks in 2017 (anticipated commissioning year at that time) and 2021 have been provided:

20172021
If withoutwithIf withoutwith
the CWBthe CWBthe CWBthe CWB
Connaught1.30.91.30.9
Road
Central

Harcourt1.30.91.30.9
Road

Gloucester1.30.91.30.9
Road

CWB-0.7-0.7
As shown from the above table, at the initial stage of commissioning of the CWB, the v/c ratio in the morning peaks is 0.7, meaning that at its initial stage of commissioning, the capacity of the CWB is sufficient to cope with the anticipated traffic volume with a smooth traffic flow.Therefore, it is anticipated that same as the original estimates, it will only take about five minutes to drive from Central to the Island Eastern Corridor at North Point.Also as shown from the above table, at the initial stage of commissioning of the CWB, the v/c ratios of Connaught Road Central, Harcourt Road and Gloucester Road will decrease from 1.3 to 0.9.Therefore, the Government anticipates that upon commissioning of the CWB, the traffic congestion at Connaught Road Central, Harcourt Road and Gloucester Road can be alleviated.

However, the CWB will bring no direct relief to non-major trunk roads (e.g. Queen’s Road Central and Des Voeux Road Central) in Central.After the commissioning of the CWB, these roads will still be used by a large number of vehicles which need to enter Central.As such, the traffic condition in the district is not expected to improve significantly.With reference to the information in the Supplementary Note provided by the Government to the Expert Panel on Sustainable Transport Planning and Central ¡V Wan Chai Bypass under the Harbour-front Enhancement Committee (Note 2) in 2005, the same conclusion could be drawn – after the commissioning of the CWB, traffic congestion will only be slightly alleviated during peak hours at certain busy junctions in Central (e.g. the junction of Pedder Street and Des Voeux Road Central, and the junction of Queen’s Road Central and Ice House Street (Note 3)).

Note 1: Volume/capacity (v/c) ratio is an indication of the traffic conditions of roads during peak hours.

A v/c ratio equals to or less than 1.0 is considered acceptable. A v/c ratio between 1.0 and 1.2 indicates a manageable degree of congestion. A v/c ratio above 1.2 indicates more serious congestion.

Note 2: Please see Appendix 4.6B of Supplementary Note No.5 (www.harbourfront.org.hk/eng/content_page/doc/SN-en.pdf).

Note 3: The performance of a traffic signalised junction is indicated by its reserve capacity (RC).A positive RC indicates that the junction is operating with spare capacity; and a negative RC indicates that the junction is overloaded, resulting in traffic queues and longer travelling time.After the commissioning of the CWB, the RC of the junction of Pedder Street and Des Voeux Road Central and the junction of Queen’s Road Central and Ice House Street during peak hours are expected to improve from 2% to 6% and from -3% to 5% respectively.

Hong Kong drivers caught in surprise police blitz complain over ‘unfair’ fines … despite being illegally parked

Week-long, city-wide crackdown on illegal parking begins

Drivers in Central blackspots were caught out on Wednesday as ¬police launched a week-long, ¬city-wide crackdown on illegal parking.

Those expecting the leniency they were accustomed to were in for a surprise; they ended up complaining that the operation was “unfair”, as police enforced HK$320 fines only minutes after the drivers parked their vehicles ¬illegally, and without warning.

While traffic police swooped on blackspots, the uphill battle against illegal parking was evident as it was back to business as usual when the officers moved on.

A Filipino professional driver was one of those given a ticket for waiting for his boss in a restricted area on Lyndhurst Terrace at around 1pm.

The driver, 56, who refused to give his name, said he had parked there almost every day for the past few years as his boss would have lunch nearby.

“[This is] the first time I have got a ticket in this area. I have worked as a driver in Hong Kong for 20 years,” he said, adding that he was unaware of the police ¬operation, which was announced last week, and questioned whether he had even broken the law.

“This is an open area. There is no sign. Suddenly they came and gave me a ticket … no warning,” he said.

He said the officer, who spoke in Cantonese – a language the driver was not fluent in – would only tell him “it is ticketing time”.

Police have vowed to be tough during the seven-day operation.

Their focus is on double-parking and stopping in restricted zones.

Central and Kowloon Tong – notorious for traffic congestion as a result of illegal parking – were among areas targeted on Wednesday.

A local woman was given a ticket for double parking at noon on the same road in Central where the Filipino driver was caught out.

“I am not familiar with this area,” she said.

“I parked here for just two minutes to pick up some stuff for my kids. Then I got a ticket.”

The officer involved told the woman “even one minute would not work”, as her car was blocking others from turning.

On Wellington Street, the Post saw an officer take only two minutes to ticket a white BMW.

In Yau Ma Tei, a 57-year-old driver and his 44-year-old passenger were arrested for disorder in a public place after they were allegedly uncooperative and yelled at the police officer who fined them for illegal parking.

The driver, surnamed Lam, parked his car outside 3 Waterloo Road.

But in Kowloon City, another notorious blackspot, drivers ¬defied the crackdown with rampant double and triple parking.
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Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/1961561/hong-kong-drivers-caught-surprise-police-blitz-complain

Electronic road pricing plan for Hong Kong’s Central district slammed by local councillors

Government should instead target rampant illegal parking in business district as way to ease congestion, they say

Central district councillors on Thursday united in bashing the government’s plan to introduce electronic road pricing in the neighbourhood, saying the policy by itself could not ease chronic road congestion and pollution in Hong Kong’s core business district.

They argued the government should instead prioritise confronting problems such as rampant illegal parking and the lack of parking spaces.

Liberal Party councillor Joseph Chan Ho-lim, representing the Peak constituency, said the root cause of traffic jams in Central was widespread double-parking in key arteries such as Queen’s Road Central and Chater Road.

“Right now, the problem of severe congestion in Central is not about more cars or fewer cars coming to Central. The problem is the cars in Central don’t move at all,” said Chan. “Why the cars don’t move? It’s because of illegal parking … parts of the roads are always blocked.

“What angers me the most is when the police and traffic officers see illegal parking, they don’t issue a ticket and just ask them to leave.”

Council vice-chairman Chan Hok-fung questioned why a road tax was needed at all.

“It’s illegal parking. We said this 90,000 times in district council … but nothing was done to alleviate [it],” said Chan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong .

“We are going to have the Central-Wan Chai Bypass. Is there a need to do electronic road pricing? Why can’t we wait until the bypass is opened?”

The bypass is a highway being built to alleviate congestion in Central, but it will not open in 2017 as scheduled because of technical difficulties.

Cheng lai-king, of the Democratic Party, worried the road tax would be implemented at the expense of residents in Mid-Levels.

“I felt angry after reading the documents,” Cheng said. “It’s punishing the residents of Mid-Levels. Some streets in the area aren’t served by public transport and driving is a must.”

Kam Nai-wai, of Sheung Wan constituency, blamed the government for creating the congestion in the first place because of poor town planning.

“There is so much commercial development in Central. This was the reason why there was so much more traffic into the area in the first place,” he said. “There is a car park in Murray Road but [the government] is planning to remove it.”

In response, principal assistant secretary for Transport and Housing (Transport), Cordelia Lam Wai-ki, reiterated the administration currently holds “an open attitude” on electronic road pricing, which is only one of the 12 suggestions it was studying to ease traffic jams in the city.

“We are not only relying on electronic road pricing to solve traffic congestion,” said Lam. “Last year, the Transport Advisory Committee suggested to increase fixed the penalty for illegal parking by 50 per cent from HK$320 to HK$488. We are working on it.

“As to the details of [electronic road pricing], we haven’t set any framework and we want to hear your voice.”

The public consultation on the road tax ends next Friday.
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Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/1922978/electronic-road-pricing-plan-hong-kongs-central

New HK$43.7bn Kowloon highway project to cost 3.4 times more than expected

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2016/02/27/new-hk43-7bn-kowloon-highway-project-to-cost-3-4-times-more-than-expected/

The financial budget unveiled on Wednesday revealed that the latest estimates for the new Central Kowloon route highway project stand at HK$43.7 billion. The sum is 3.4 times more than original the amount tabled in 2002.

The infrastructure project is set to commence during the next financial year. According to the Highways Department website, the highway will extend for 4.7km from Yau Ma Tei through to the Kai Tak Development and Kowloon Bay. It is expected to relieve traffic congestion in Central Kowloon and includes a 3.9km long tunnel.

It is predicted that the construction of the highway will take seven years and could be online by 2023.

Proposed Central Kowloon route. Photo: GovHK.

Proposed Central Kowloon route. Photo: GovHK.

The cost of the project was adjusted in 2002, when it was proposed that the highway could carry three lanes instead of two. It was then predicted that the project will cost HK$10 billion. Now, at HK$43.7 billion, each kilometre averages HK$9.2 billion, much higher than the high-speed rail’s average cost at HK$3.2 billion per kilometre, Ming Pao reported.

The Executive Council authorised the project last month, but no price was stated in the gazette, RTHK reported.

Proposed Central Kowloon route. Photo: hyd.gov.hk.

Proposed Central Kowloon route. Photo: hyd.gov.hk.

The Professional Commons convenor Albert Lai Kwong-tak said that it was unreasonable for the project to have a threefold increase in cost and said the government could be overestimating the cost of the project due to pressure surrounding over expenditure in projects in recent years.

“It’s a self-defence mechanism – better to overestimate than underestimate,” he said.

The Highways Department has yet to respond to media inquiries by RTHK and Ming Pao.