Friday, 23 February 2018

another joke

Although I used to do so at least once a week, I haven’t ridden the journey to the west recently. In fact, when I did it with Paula yesterday, it was the first time since April last year. Naturally, after such a long absence, we couldn’t help but notice a few changes. The first obvious change has been to the link path, the key to the route during its initial exploration. What had once been a rough, nerve-racking section has been resurfaced, so there are no longer any lumpy bits, and the dodgy ‘bridge’, a photo of which I originally posted in Journey to the West: Part 2, has been eliminated entirely. We do not regret its absence.

The road leading to ‘the avenue of the dead’, which I described in Journey to the West: Part 4, has also been resurfaced, so that’s a few more bumps ironed out.

However, by far the biggest development has been the work being carried out alongside the Drainage Services Department (DSD) access road leading to Fairview Park (starting from the red ‘X’ in the southwest corner of the map below) and thence to the Kam Tin River. This will eventually become part of the much-trumpeted cycle track connecting Ma On Shan with Yuen Long.

The last time that I came this way, a short section of cycle track linking directly to the Yuen Long network was already under construction, and it is now complete. I thought that we might as well check it out, although I did notice that a few recreational cyclists ignored it and continued on the DSD access road alongside the Kam Tin River. I was almost immediately taken aback by a warning sign, which I made a mental note to photograph on the way back:

Steep road? I don’t think I stopped pedalling, let alone used my brakes. I’m not sure why the cycle track drops below the level of the access road, but the height difference is no more than 1.5 metres, and I would rate the hill as negligible, given that difference.

The previous photo shows the exit from the bridge over a small tributary stream looking north. This is the exit from the same bridge to the south:

The yellow bollards in both photos are probably there to encourage riders to slow down or even dismount but are merely a bloody nuisance. The person whose bright idea it was to install them is unlikely to be a cyclist.

On the other hand, I regularly see people riding bicycles who don’t know how to stop! I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve seen who, having decided that they want to stop, take their feet off the pedals and slide them along the ground. I wonder what they think their brakes are for. You shouldn’t be putting your feet down until you’ve actually stopped.

But if you think that the recommendation to get off and push is more than a bit silly in those two locations, what about this next example, a short distance to the north?

You may think that this is the joke referenced in the title of this report, but there’s an even bigger joke, and it’s not the least bit funny: this cycle track, from the red ‘X’ to the start of the Yuen Long cycle track network, is unnecessary. Millions of dollars are being wasted here, and on the cycle track running parallel to the Sheung Yue River (northeast of the second ‘X’ on the map above), because the DSD access roads in both places are perfectly capable of handling cycle traffic, particularly if the suggestions that I made in A Dangerous Arrangement for managing the DSD access roads around the Kam Tin River catchment are implemented.

And when the existing construction work is completed, there remains a big gap between the two X’s. I’ve no idea where the cycle track between these points is slated to go, but it must follow the general line of the expressway. There is a route through the large grey area to the south of the expressway, but it is quite mountainous, and “steep road, cyclists advised to walk” signs would be everywhere. But the crucial point here is that even if in the future it is deemed necessary to replace use of the DSD access roads with dedicated cycle tracks, why isn’t the X–X connection being built first?

To conclude, on our ride yesterday, it started to rain as we began our return journey, but we were keen to see whether there were any changes around fish pond alley. The rain became heavier as we rode through this area, so we decided to omit the Tam Mei loop. However, we did want to check whether anything had changed in the area of the snake path, because the last time that we’d come this way, the farmer had told us that major developments were afoot.

This is probably the only time that we’ve done the snake path in the rain, and I have to say that the wet conditions make it harder than usual. The turn onto the penultimate dodgy bridge was particularly harrowing, given that the bridge is bare metal, and the penalty for failure is a three-metre drop into the stream below. However, the really nasty section is shown in the following photo, which I took on our last venture through this area:

I took the photo because even then it seemed harder than I’d remembered. It may not look all that difficult in the photo, but the various surfaces are all at different angles, and the section next to the pond on the right of the tin shack looks like it’s about to subside into the pond. Well, when we tackled it yesterday, I swear that this section is now canted at an angle of 40 degrees or so—I certainly scraped my pedal as I rode across it. Paula was able to ride across via the left-hand section, but I suspect that my handlebar is too wide. Anyway, my wife suggested that next time we pass this way, I get off and push. Being a bloody-minded sod, I’m unlikely to comply, although that could mean that I end up in the pond.

And that would be no joke.


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