Chim Shuk-fong, an experienced local cycling commuter says more people use bikes as regular transport in the New Territories because there are better facilities and it is safer.
“But in the city area, you really have to have a determination and a sense of the environment and health if you commute,” she says.
Chim loves cycling because it is free. “From point A to point B, I get the satisfaction of using my own power to finish the route,” says Chim. “I can adjust the pace. I can stop wherever I want to…I just go wherever I want.”
To Chim, cycling is not just a hobby or a sport. Her passion for cycle touring changed her career path. The former accountant decided to become a teacher because school teachers have four long holidays annually. Chim has now toured 40 countries on a bike.
Around five years ago, she decided to commute on her folding bike. The feasibility of commuting was one of her major considerations in her choice of school. “I tried not to apply for schools on Hong Kong Island so that I could realize my plan,” says Chim, who lives in Yuen Long.
Every morning, Chim rides from home to the Kam Sheung Road station, takes her bike onto the train, gets off at the Nam Cheong station and rides all the way to her school in Shek Kip Mei. The whole journey takes her 55 minutes.
Experience has taught her that cyclists are always treated as inferior road users. “With their bigger, faster vehicles, people always attempt to go ahead of my bike.”
Chim says road users’ disrespect can sometimes cause danger. “I used to scold them. But there are just too many of them. Now I just give way to them.”
Giving way is not the same as giving up. She bends over with laughter as she recalls a friend’s joke, “Women carry their handbags, while you carry your folding bike.” So central is cycling to Chim’s life that she has even incorporated the image of a bicycle into her signature.
Commuting by bike may be tough, but Chim wants to tell people around her that persistence pays, “If you really have the heart to do it, you will find the way.”
For nurse Laetitia Lam, the journey is just beginning. Inspired by her friends during a visit to Austria in 2009, Lam bought a road bike and began to commute between her home in Prince Edward and her workplace in Yau Ma Tei. Now she commutes twice a week, and says it is still very difficult for her to integrate cycling into her life. “It depends on many conditions,” says Lam, “like the temperature, whether there are too many people, and whether the roads are too dangerous.”
Despite the difficulties, Lam says she is satisfied that she can really carry out something which she thinks is meaningful. “I am proud of myself for really doing it. People may think that we are naïve, but I think that a society really needs somebody who is naïve to keep these basic things.”
“And I will continue biking,” says Lam.