When I typed “the most walkable cities in the world” into Google, here were the deserving constants: Amsterdam, Munich, Edinburgh, Venice, Montreal, Vancouver, New York and Boston.

But where is there an Asian city. I was baffled and surprised that Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore, Taipei and Hong Kong didn’t make it. Where is Hong Kong? How many cities out there can you walk 4 districts comfortably in 30 minutes? How many cities have a world class subway system with a minimum wait time of 2-3 minutes? How many cities can have an abundance of restaurants in pretty much every district within walking distance?

Then I realized how this list is probably comprised: aesthetic appeal, population density and city pollution. I can only speak for Hong Kong and I’m pretty sure we don’t rank so highly for the last two points.

We will focus on the population density issue. So how do we make our small space Hong Kong feel bigger and boost our aesthetic appeal? One possible solution is to look no further than Singapore. According to a report written by Greening, Landscape and Tree Management (GLTM) of the Development Bureau, in the last 20 plus years, the coverage of vegetation of Singapore has grown from 35% to 47%. This is pretty staggering and impressive forward thinking. Having visited this city recently and walking the central areas was truly pleasant due to the lush greenery, lower density, wider sidewalks. It ain’t called “City in the Garden” for nothing.

Garden City Singapore

However, such development for HK has to happen differently, as over 90% of the development is on only 20% of land. So what can be done?

Start pedestrianizing our roads while greening them up. The experience of walking in Hong Kong can feel less like bumper cars and packed sardines and become a world class level of green urban landscapes. Hong Kong magazine wrote a wonderful feature about this possibility and there is hope for more traction for this idea, starting with Central.

Artist impression of pedestrianizing Central Hong Kong

Civic Exchange

Looking at these renderings is amazing! Can you imagine the entire harbor side of Victoria Harbour pedestrianized(bicycle lanes too)? Imagine busy districts like Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kong fully accessible for walking. It can happen! Roads are not only for cars, they are for people to walk, mingle and enjoy. With our fast paced lifestyle in Hong Kong, just having more pedestrian space with greenery can help us de-stress a bit.

Artist impression of pedestrianizing Central Hong Kong

Civic Exchange

Wouldn’t a cityscape like the above, make our streets more aesthetically pleasing and one of the most walkable cities in the world? Wouldn’t this be a huge trade-off for living in smaller apartments? Wouldn’t this be nice?

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