Walking anywhere, anytime to help reduce carbon emissions while being fit
Hong Kong’s established transportation system makes it very easy to travel around the city. The public is more likely to take public transportation if they can. However, even though it is convenient and cheap for the user, it has severe consequences. Public transportation increases Hong Kong’s carbon dioxide emissions and worsens its air quality which affects the health of the public. In order to understand Hong Kong people’s habit on walking, World Green Organisation (WGO) ‘Hong Kong Walking Habits Survey’ once again this year to find out how often and how long do Hong Kong people walk in a week as well as reasons that motivate them to walk or take public transportation. WGO found that the percentage of people choosing to walk for environmental reasons decreased from last year as a result of the extreme weather and the poor air quality during the survey period. It is gratifying however, that 60% of respondents were in favour of introducing the idea of ‘walking scores’. 70% out of the 60% thought that this was a good way to promote environmental protection and personal health. Other survey findings as well as details of this year’s ‘Green WALK Hong Kong 2017’ were announced today (August 20th) by WGO at Langham Place. Through this campaign, WGO hopes to encourage more people to walk instead of using short-distance transportation and cultivate a low-carbon lifestyle.
Compared to last year, less people sited environmental reasons as a reason why they walk
The face-to-face surveys were done from July to August this year. WGO appointed CSG to conduct 505 surveys with Hong Kong people over the age of 18. According to the survey, more than 70% of the respondents were willing to walk instead of using their car for environmental reasons. This was approximately 15% less than last year. One possible reason for this might be the increased frequency of extreme weather during the survey period. The humidity and heat might have contributed to these survey answers.
There are no gender differences in Hong Kong’s walking habits
The survey also found that nearly 33% of respondents failed to meet one of Hong Kong Government’s ‘basic health indicators’ . The survey found that for women walked less than men. 70% of women and 60% of men walked 30 minutes or more on average only 4 days or less per week. Only 28.8% of women stated that they walked 30 minutes or more 5-7 days a week whereas 41.4% of men stated that they walked more than 30 minutes or more 5-7 a week.
The survey also asked respondents reasons why they would choose to take short-distance transportation rather than walking. Results found that more than 60% of men who choose to take transportation was doing so to reach destination on time or to save time. The answers that women chose varied and did not have a distinctive answer. However, 56% of all respondents cited weather as their reason of taking transportation for short distances. 54% of respondents did so in order to reach the destination on time or save time. 48% of respondents stated the distance and other factors as their reason for taking public or private transportation. In contrast, 37% of men who chose to walk did so in order to do some exercise. 45% of women decided to walk as they were not in a rush or to kill time.
Dr William Yu, Chief Executive Officer of the World Green Organisation stated,
The survey reflects that Hong Kong people may not fully understand the full extent of the benefits of walking. Walking’s functionality is not only to walk and to get to places. In fact, the World Health Organisation has stated walking as the ‘World’s Best Sport’ as it is very easy, doesn’t require any special equipment, and has great physical and mental health benefits. Both young and old can walk and do exercise. Through this campaign WGO hopes to inform the public of the health benefits of walking and encourage them to continue or start walking more. If Hong Kong people can walk 8,000 steps daily, they can reduce 235-329 calories and reduce 1.6kg of carbon emissions.
Coincided with the objective of the Policy Address, this campaign hopes to promote Hong Kong as a walkable city. WGO hopes that the government will introduce a clearer policy and scheme that will allow the public to enjoy a better environment and feel the pleasure and fun of walking.
Dr Gary Mak from the Hong Kong Association of Sports Medicine and Sports Science said
Hong Kong are working all the time without moving much. This increases the risk of osteoporosis. If they were to suddenly do rigorous exercises, it actually increases the burden on the heart and in extreme cases can lead to heart disease or heart attacks. If the body is not used to exercise, suddenly exercising can also put more than 2-3 times more strain and pressure on the leg joints which can lead to future problems especially at an older age.
Walking, compared to rigorous, strenuous exercises, is a much more relaxed moderate exercises that the elderly and children can easily do every day. If this habit is maintained, participants can not only keep the bones health, improve their immune system, and build a resistance to emotional disorders, but also help prevent heart disease, strokes and cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other major disease.”
60% of adults approve the ‘Walk Score’ as an indicator
This year’s survey also asked the public on their views of establishing a ‘Walk Score’ in Hong Kong. The survey found that nearly 60% were in favour of introducing ‘Walk Score’. 75% of those in favour cited environmental reasons for their answer. Approximately 65% of those in favour cited health reasons.
WGO is developing a ‘Green WALK Score’ for Hong Kong
During today’s press conference, Dr Yu introduced the concept of ‘Walk Score’.
Many foreign countries are currently using ‘Walk Score’. WGO plans to adapt this concept to suit Hong Kong’s need and highlight the convenience of walking. In order to provide a reference index for the public and promote Hong Kong as a green, walkable city, WGO intends to propose a Green WALK Score for each district using approximately 10 categories including; air quality, ventilation, acoustic environment, green cover, recreational and resting area, crowdedness, walking safety, pedestrian-friendly facilities and waste management.
WGO not only announced the survey results in this press conference but also invited Hong Kong snooker player, Ms Ng On-yee to share her experience. She shared that in order to develop a good healthy lifestyle, she does have a habit to record how many steps she walked and there are many phone apps that will help her record the number of steps and the calories used.
‘Green WALK’ will include an ‘animal parade’ by primary school students as well as a green market with a STEM focus
In order to promote Hong Kong as a green walkable city, WGO will be setting up several follow-up activities including ‘Green WALK Hong Kong 2017’ on November 5th. This year’s ‘Green WALK Hong Kong 2017’ will begin with an ‘Endangered Animal Parade’. More than 10 primary schools of student have been invited to participate in this program. With the help of professional designers and experts, students will be designing a mask for the ‘endangered animal parade. Through this activity, WGO hopes to stimulate the children’s creativity while increasing awareness of species that became endangered as a result of climate change.
WGO will also be holding a green market with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Over 20 institutes have been invited to hold green product promotions, upcycling workshops, as well as related creative game booths such as AR games, inflatable bouncy castles, balloon twisting, jellyfish robots, dragon dance and face painting.
There will be 6 major walking routes in WGO’s ‘City Tour’ to promote the local Hong Kong
Hong Kong Karate athlete, Ms Grace Lau Mo-sheung said she often walks to relax.
I usually walk around with my family members or friends and explore new things. Through walking, we can deepen bonds, improve our health while helping the environment.
You can walk anytime and anywhere to reduce carbon emissions while getting fit. In order to make the public understand the joy and benefits of walking, WGO will continue to design walking routes using Hong Kong’s unique tourist attractions. The 6 major walking routes in WGO’s ‘City Tour’ include walking through Sham Shui Po Mei Ho House route, Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre and Garden Hill, which is a great place to enjoy the sunset. One of the tours will also include touring Yau Ma Tei’s features such as the Yau Ma Tei theatre, Yau Ma Tei fruit market, and Yau Ma Tei Service Reservoir Rest Garden. Through the 6 major walking tours, participants and families can relax and enjoy learning more about Hong Kong’s diverse history and customs in the specific communities.
Annex 1：Green WALK Score Index – Factors and considerations
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World Green Organisation (WGO) Representatives