HONG KONG, 1 May 2012 — The number of cycling accidents in Hong Kong climbs every year. In 2010, near 40 per cent of the cyclist casualties were aged 10 to 24, reflecting children and teenagers are more likely to be injured in the accidents and there is an urgent need to promote cycling safety. Advocating a “first call for children”, the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF HK) partnered with the Hong Kong School of Motoring (HKSM), which promotes a “first call for road safety”, to co-organise the ‘Believe in Zero’ Cycling Safety Event ‘cum’ Kick-off Ceremony today, where UNICEF HK Ambassador, World Cycling Champion Wong Kam-po promoted cycling safety tips to over 500 participants. Mr Wong also led the participants and committee members of UNICEF HK to pledge “Believe in Zero”, calling for “Zero Cycling Accidents” in Hong Kong and awareness towards the 21,000 children around the world who die from preventable diseases every day, and work together to achieve the goal of “Zero Child Sufferings”.
Statistics about the cycling accidents and cyclist casualties from the government showed the need to educate teenagers and children cycling safety. Reported cases from the Transport Department point out in the 2,207 traffic accidents involving bicycles in 2010, near four in every ten casualties were 10 to 24. This number of cycling accidents even rose 23 per cent to 2,500 cases last year, which was the highest in 11 years. Latest statistics from the Police Force shows that in the first two months this year, there were 268 accidents involving bicycles, which resulted in 242 cyclist injuries and one cyclist death, compared with record in the same period last year, the number of accidents and casualties increased by 11 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.
UNICEF HK thus partnered with HKSM to co-organise ‘Believe in Zero’ Cycling Safety Event ‘cum’ Kickoff Ceremony in HKSM’s largest, 250,000 square feet Shatin Road Safety Centre, where lessons, teachers and venue setup were rearranged for the event. With the unique, well-designed road settings, real road facilities, and the six cycling safety checkpoints including turns into a main road from side road, S bend road, blind spots with a truck etc., monitored by UNICEF HK Ambassador, World Cycling Champion Wong Kam-po and former HK cycling team member, cycling advisor Ms Joyce Lai Oi-yan, 150 primary 4 to secondary 7 participants could practise skills such as turning, braking, slowing down as if they were cycling in reality and learnt to be safe cyclists. Besides, there were also game booths and “Believe in Zero” exhibition panels for participants’ friends and relatives to learn and join the fun.
|In “Bike test:Check your safety gear” checkpoint, participants learnt how to wear a cycle helmet, adjust the height of the bike seat, control the brake, stop the bike at designated location properly and get off with only one foot on the ground.||In “Talk using hands” checkpoint, participants learnt cycling hand signals like “turn left”, “turn right”, “U-turn” and “slow down” to communicate easily with companions and other cyclists while cycling.|
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children have right to leisure and play, but the society should promote the awareness of playing safely. “Cycling seems an easy play, but actually, it takes a lot to learn if you want to cycle safely. That is often overlooked by kids, even adults,” said Ms Judy Chen, Chairman of UNICEF HK in the ceremony. “I feel sad when I see more and more news about children getting injured in cycling accidents. I know there are even cases that children die of cycling accidents,” Ms Leonie Ki, Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Advocacy and Public Relations Committee of UNICEF HK, one of the major contributors to the event said, “And this is not just about Hong Kong. Road and traffic accidents are also one of the top ten causes of death over the world, accounting for 1.3 million deaths per year and affect another 50 million victims. United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 and UNICEF, advocating a “first call for children”, must do something about it for children. This event is also a support to the Action by United Nations.”
UNICEF HK Ambassador, World Cycling Champion Wong Kam-po said he once noticed himself an “idol” of a young victim of cycling accidents. He, then, not only made time to pay the injured a visit, but also thought he had the responsibility to promote safe cycling. Today, he led 15 outstanding performers to go for a 1,000-meter safety ride and to demonstrate their newly acquired skills, such as signaling and braking, symbolising the cohort efforts on promoting safe cycling and helping build up the momentum of safe cycling culture.
Mr Alan Soong, Head – Marketing and Communications of HKSM, said that it is the honor to have the joint event with UNICEF HK and is a double meaning activity. “Hong Kong School of Motoring has trained over a million adults. We are pleased to have the opportunity to educate the road safety to the kids from their early ages. It is a meaningful charity activity.”
In the kick-off ceremony, the officiating guests including Mr Lai Tung-kwok, Under Secretary for Security, HKSARG removed nine “bricks” of causes of cycling accidents, such as “not wearing helmets”, “not signaling”, etc., and unveiled a two-meter-tall “Zero” sculpture, symbolising “Zero Cycling Accidents” and “Zero Injuries” are achievable if the public could all correct the bad cycling behaviours. The blocks were then turned around, showing the colorful “bricks” – “Zero Measles”, “Zero HIV/AIDS”, “Zero Polios”, “Zero Malnutrition” which are all about UNICEF’s goals to achieve “Zero Child Sufferings”. 500 participants then raised their hands to declare their pledge to make “Believe in Zero” come true.
Statistics from the charity shows 21,000 children die from preventable diseases or causes every day. Though there are 12,000 deaths fewer today compared with 20 years ago, the charity said they are not satisfied until the number stops at “Zero”. During the event, members of UNICEF Club from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology raised the awareness of children dying from lack of immunisation and clean drinking water through a “Still Act” performance.
Besides, Believe in Zero – Cycling Safety Tips Book published by UNICEF HK yesterday were distributed to the event participants. “Believe in Zero” website is also launched today to help promote “Believe in Zero”. The tips book consists of lively cartoons featuring Wong Kam-po, Mcdull and its friends illustrating cycling safety techniques. In addition, 60,000 tips books were distributed to more than 100 primary and secondary schools, as well as bicycle shops. Information and education materials about cycling safety including the tip book, animations and videos featuring Wong Kam-po are now available on the website. Public can at the same time help promote “Believe in Zero” with their creativity by designing their own “Believe in Zero” icons, or uploading photos with “Zero”.
Today’s event was popular that the number of applicants exceeded the quota by double. For safety concerns, the organisers randomly chose 150 primary 4 to secondary 7 students to participate. Many UNICEF committees over the world, including the one in America, Australia, Ireland, and South Africa have launched “Believe in Zero” campaign since 2008. “Believe in Zero” has already become a common goal shared by people who would like to show their support to UNICEF’s relief, education and advocacy efforts.