Written by Patrick Fung, CEO Clean Air Network
Severe traffic congestion and consistently high levels of air pollution are some of the critical problems facing Des Voeux Road Central (DVRC). Located in the Central Business District of Hong Kong, the street is one of the busiest and most polluted areas in the city. In response to this, Clean Air Network and other NGO’s have started the DVRC Initiative, which proposes to convert a 1.4 km section of Des Voeux Road Central (between Pedder Street and the Western Market) into an area that gives pedestrians and trams priority over other vehicular traffic.
The proposal first came from the Hong Kong Institute of Planners (HKIP) in 2000. In 2014, the proposal was revisited and the studies conducted by HKIP, Civic Exchange and City University of Hong Kong showed that, it can help solve existing and anticipated social problems, including air pollution, traffic congestion and urban decay.
In 2015 and 2016, Clean Air Network spearheaded the Des Voeux Road Central campaign by conducting a series of public engagements, including walk tours, workshops, exhibitions, etc. to create public awareness about how air pollution and traffic congestion affect health of people working and living along DVRC.
A green boulevard for people amid Central, why not? (March 2016): Co-organised by Clean Air Network, The University of Hong Kong and Columbia University GSAPP Studio-X, the “Re-imagining Des Voeux Road Central” exhibition was held at Central Oasis, one of the landmarks along DVRC. The exhibition aimed to engage the public in an inspiring dialogue and spark public imagination about how DVRC can be transformed into a pedestrianised, green thoroughfare – and one of Hong Kong’s great public spaces – in the Central Business District.
Grand Prix in DVRC (June 2016): Pedestrians along pedestrian walkways suffer as much as drivers, when it comes to congestion in Central. To address this, Clean Air Network designed a stunt using office chairs as racing carts. The event successfully attracted the attention of many passersby and media. It invited the public, especially office workers, to rethink how walkability of DVRC should be improved.
Walk the Imagination – Very DVRC (September 2016): With the support and cooperation of Government departments, a section of DVRC (from Ma Wa Lane to Morrison Street) was closed on September 25th. The event was attended by over 14,000 people. The temporary pedestrian zone brought cleaner air and also significantly more pedestrian traffic. It successfully demonstrated that this section of DVRC could be closed to vehicular traffic. The event was organised by Clean Air Network and other NGOs. With the help of 40 collaborators participants were able to join in a wide range of arts and crafts, sports, music and cultural activities during the trial road closure.
In 2017, a non-profit organisation “Walk DVRC Limited” is established to spearhead the campaign and deliver the initiative to transform DVRC. CAN continues to serve as one of the supporters of the initiative.
Established in 2009 in Hong Kong, Clean Air Network (CAN) is a charitable organisation envisioning a Hong Kong with clean air. Our mission is to amplify the voices of individuals, groups and organisations and together we urge the Government to take appropriate measures to clean up our air immediately.