Dateline, Hong Kong

One of the main differences between New York and Hong Kong is the low pedestrian friendliness. The public transportation is great (see my tram thoughts from 12/26/2002), with extensive train service, trams, and many different kinds of buses linking Hong Kong.

Walking outside is another issue. Hong Kong's streets are teeming with cars, taxis, buses, and trams, leaving pedestrian crossing like you're in an actual game of Frogger. The main streets of Hong Kong are like Broadway or Fifth Avenue in Midtown crossed with the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The roads are also pretty narrow, with lots of sharp turns to overpasses. Therefore, there are many pedestrian "walkways," or covered elevated walkways that traverse streets, and "subways," which are walkways underground. (This leads to much confusion for me: When I see subway signs, I think it's for the underground train. The underground train is called the MTR, after the private company that runs it, Mass Transit Railways. I end up calling it the MTA, and insert wacky antics here.)

Here is a photograph of a red-roofed walkway on the left; on the right, one of the main drags of Hong Kong.

(Taken from 42 stories up, so please forgive some blurriness)

The government is aware of the issue, and issued a press release as well as an interesting strategy document about their plans to "pedestrianise" the city. There are open walkways as well as enclosed ones that connect buildings at the second or third floors...enabling you to walk from one mall to another and to yet another without experiencing the polluted air. If there was anything else to speak to how the sprawl in Hong Kong reaches underground or in the sky, I think about this: The hip boutiques you'd wander into in the East Village on your stroll are stationed in multi-storied malls where you go from stall to stall to check out the cool fashions; restaurants are frequently on higher floors, necessitating the need for loud signs.