With populations and industry booming in China and urban areas undergoing massive infrastructural expansion, cars are proliferating in what was once a bike-dominated transportation culture. Electric bikes and scooters have managed to keep some Chinese mobile without an automobile (hindered briefly by the ban that tried to suppress bike sales in favor of the auto industry), but according to The Guardian:
The number of vehicles on China's roads has increased more than twenty-fold since 1978 to 27m. Within 15 years, he predicted, it could rise to more than 130m - which still represents only one car for every 10 people....Estimates of the number of bicycles in [Beijing] range from 4m to 10m. But transport analysts say the average Beijinger travels 60% less by bike than 10 years ago and those journeys are becoming dirtier and more dangerous.
But yesterday, China's construction ministry declared that bike lanes which have been sacrificed in the name of road and highway expansion must be restored to full function, an announcement which came on the heels of another two days prior, ordering that government employees take public transportation or ride bikes to work.
Qiu Baoxing, a vice-minister with the Ministry of Construction, said it was important for China to retain its title as the "kingdom of bicycles."
No doubt with cities growing and the auto industry still on the rise in China, bikes may still face pressure on the roads, but greening efforts abound, and pronouncements such as those delivered this week keep adding momentum to the movement towards greener Chinese cities.
I think people in China will surely return to the bikes, if the new roads in China would have a line for bikes.
Great story, thank you for sharing it with me.
China should become a model for the rest of the world in promoting high density, automobile-sparse, bike and pedestrian friendly cities with the best mass transit systems possible. If they can achieve this, they will be the envy of the world.
It is disturbing when Chinese urban planners thoughtlessly follow the development of US cities. Western US cities are not the model we should be following.
Good point Pace, don't let it end up like London where it's war every time you get on a bike.
China will have to enforce traffic laws in the cities or the new bike lanes will do no good at all. Right now, drivers seem to use every flat surface they can to get around in the urban areas of the Pearl River Delta regardless of the markings on the road. Still, this article is very good news.
On a related note, check out some pictures of bikes in China at http://bicycledesign.blogspot.com/2006/03/bikes-in-china.html
I used to live in japan and love biking. Driving a car sucks in Japan, riding the trains is great! Driving and trains take the same amount of time in japan, unlike the US.
When I visited China a few times this year and last, there were still many people riding bikes, but more and more cars. Cars are so lame...definitely not the mark of true civilization.
When the US abandons cars, the rest of the world will too. Or not?
Where I live now (Oakland) biking is fairly safe compared to other cities, but it would be far safer with light rail and no cars on the main roads. I hate cars!