Wednesday, 4 November 2015

outrageous

Whenever I return to Hong Kong after spending the summer in my home town in the UK, I look for things that have changed during my absence. There is always something. This year, there has been one change that I find particularly annoying, which I will come to in a moment.

There have been several other changes along the route of what I’ve called ‘the journey to the west’. Unsurprisingly, some of these have been land clearances, either for house building or for use as quasi-industrial sites, although I won’t know which is which until the clearances have been completed (the location is never a reliable clue). Then, during the passage through San Tin Barracks, I quickly became aware that all the speed bumps had been changed. They are now impossible to avoid, even on a bike—no gaps at the sides—and they are of an awkward design that cannot be negotiated sufficiently slowly to avoid an uncomfortable jolt.

There was also a change that I knew about in advance, because Paula had sent me the following photo while I was away:


Compare this with the equivalent photos in Journey to the West: Part 4. The second ‘dodgy bridge’ along the ‘snake path’ has been blocked off by this much larger bridge, which crosses the stream, but ramps have been provided up and back down. The problem is that the down ramp runs directly onto the ‘ridge of death’, from where Paula’s photo was taken. I have no complaints though, because it all remains a test of your bike-handling skills.

The changes that I’ve described so far are all trivial and merit no further comment, but there is one change that has got right up my nose. If you refer again to Part 4, you will note what I described as the ‘yellow brick road’. Here is a photo of Paula approaching the end of this road that I took a few days ago:


At the very end of this road, on my first ride out west after my return, I was confronted by two clearly official road signs:


The text below the signs prohibiting cycling access probably isn’t legible in this photo, so here is what it says:
Except with the consent of the authority, no person (including any mountain bike permit holder) is allowed to bring any vehicle, motorcycle or bicycle into this area. Offenders will be prosecuted.
Country and Marine Parks Authority
If you’ve read Saturday Morning Adventure, you will know that I encountered a similar problem in the Sai Kung East Country Park a couple of years ago. When I requested permission from the CMPA to ride along a Water Supplies Department access road–a road that I’d probably ridden along more than a hundred times previously without any problems—it was suggested that I hire a taxi to transport my bike. As if a taxi is less of an obstruction on a narrow road than a bike!

Now the area beyond the road signs does contain a large number of graves, and I’ve heard that irresponsible, disrespectful behaviour by cyclists, who have been using graves as obstacles to ride over, is behind this move to ban access. And if we’re talking about nuisance in this area, what about its popularity with the operators of radio-controlled model aircraft? Especially given that in many instances, ‘controlled’ is a mere courtesy description.

However, after the frankly ludicrous response that I received last time from the CMPA, I’m not prepared to put up with any more bullshit. I’ve ridden this way scores of times since I first explored the area, and I don’t go anywhere near any graves. There is a not very obvious through route, which is what I follow, and I will continue to do so.

And here’s a message for the authority: this area is not in a country park, so it does not come under your jurisdiction. And country park wardens do not have powers of arrest, so any attempt to restrain me physically will be a criminal offence. And I have another message, which is actually a quote from one of my favourite Australians, the redoubtable Barry McKenzie:
Up yours for the rent, sport!

4 comments:

  1. Hmm, more needless trouble.
    Thanks for sharing Dennis, and please a) keep us informed of developments (in all senses), and b) let me know if there is anything I or Hong Kong Cycling Alliance can do.
    Martin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will certainly let everyone know if there is any reaction from the Country Parks Authority Martin, but I’ve been through three times this week, and there was nobody else to be seen. However, I can see this being more of a problem at weekends, so we must kick back against this kind of petty bureaucratic nonsense. Please let me know if anyone has fallen foul of this apparent crackdown, because I will be more than happy to use this blog to support anyone who faces prosecution, assuming of course that they’re just passing through and not using the area as a mountain bike playground.

      Delete
  2. This kind of BS is exactly why I hate petty bureaucrats and their nonsensical rules.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had always imagined that bureaucracy was less of a problem in the States Pat, but judging by your comment I was mistaken.

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