HK solves (lack of) traffic problem

You have a short downtown street lined with shops. Would you prefer to have it: a) crowded with Hong Kong buskers; or b) packed with vehicular traffic? Given local street performers’ talent, many of us would be sorely tempted to have the road clogged up with cars and vans.

Such was the unpleasant choice facing Mongkok’s Sai Yeung Choi Street. Karaoke singers and similar menaces were making life unbearable. The only solution is to fill the strip with SUVs and trucks that spew out pollution and force everyone onto cramped sidewalks, thus easing the bongo-drummers and dancing grannies out of the district altogether.

Could someone think of an alternative course of action? The pro-Beijing district council members argued that noise generated by bad musicians damaged businesses, while opponents proposed licensing and regulation of the so-called entertainers.

Most agree that there are only two options: either you have traffic, or you have buskers. No-one dares indulge in dangerous, out-of-the-box, lateral thinking and suggest that maybe we could have some space with neither.

In cities overseas, bureaucrats would not usually consider displacing pedestrians with traffic as a ‘solution’. They would pedestrianize more streets to ease crowding generally. Especially if they found out that this was the most densely populated neighbourhood on the planet.

Hong Kong officials are less wishy-washy. In Asia’s World City, pedestrians are a nuisance, and reopening a street to traffic is ecological restoration.

Now, if you excuse us, we have to remove some ‘gay penguin’ books from library shelves.


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10 Responses to HK solves (lack of) traffic problem

  1. Cassowary says:

    If you had a nasty suspicious mind you’d guess that it was political. Sai Yeung Choi Street didn’t used to be full of karaoke singers and dancing grannies all running sound equipment at 100 decibels, it was a few guitar players, some portrait artists, and the occasional youth drama group. It looks as if after Occupy, the police turned a blind eye to the takeover of the street by triads and DAB aunties to drive out the pesky youth, and to goad the District Council into shutting the whole thing down. Public space is a public security risk. It’s full of localists and Falun Gong and other subversives. Can’t be having with any of that that unless it’s managed by LCSD with a million rules about what you can’t do.

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    Think of what HK could achieve with leaders?

  3. Old Fishmarket Close says:

    Keep the buskers, but audition them like they do in parts of London, such as Covent Garden. Such a system might actually attract decent musicians from overseas if they happen to be passing this way. Possibly… But probably not. There would be insurmountable visa issues, for one thing.

    Ah, sod it. Let the traffic flow.

  4. dimuendo says:

    Suspect Cassowary is correct.

    But simplest solution is ban the amplification. You can still have buskers and street entertainers. Just do not amplify, as sods law requires all have to be cranked up to out do the worst electric guitar player. With no amplification, no electric guitars etc.

  5. Cassowary says:

    Auditions would never fly here – no-one in their right mind would trust any panel of judges the Home Affairs Bureau could come up with. It would rightly be called a censorship board and probably judicial reviewed the second it was formed.

    Agree with banning amplification. The small battery-powered amps are all right, but anything big enough to deafen a nightclub running off gas generators shouldn’t be allowed. Asking this government to pass any sort of legislation is like expecting a bovine to perform backflips, though.

    And they really should do something about all those bloody mobile phone plan salesmen clogging up the streets. But they won’t. Because they are gutless against PCCW and friends.

  6. AHW says:

    Indeed, Cassowary. They used they “audition” process with the food trucks… say no more.

  7. dimuendo says:

    Why does banning amplification require new laws? What about enforcing the current ones (sorry) such as disturbing the peace? There are enough innovative applications of existing laws when the powers that be want to make life difficult.

    Causeway Bay seems to have acquired a new camp whose only purpose is to blast out whatever be its amplified message. Not gone near enough to find out, and the sound is ofteen too distorted to dissern.

  8. Cassowary says:

    My understanding from talking to my local district councilor is that the police are pretty useless at enforcing the noise control ordinance, which doesn’t have any objective decibel level when it comes to domestic or street noise. The law doesn’t allow them to give out a ticket for noise violations, they have take the time to go to court and call witnesses. Successful convictions are so rare that the police don’t think it’s worth their time. So what you get is a revolving door of toothless verbal warnings.

  9. Din Gao says:

    Police policy post 1997 is not to enforce any laws enforceable by other government agencies and departments.

    This is why the streets are clogged with nuisances of all kinds and patrolling cops turn a blind eye to just about everything (except illegally parked non-chauffeur-driven vehicles).

  10. hank morgan says:

    Enjoy perspective here because of in common problems only ‘amplified’ “by most densely populated neighbourhood on the planet.”

    Leela: [looking at the overcrowded penguins] Oh God, it’s inhuman! It’s like Hong Kong! Futurama, The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz (2001)

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