Back to the Good Old Days: China Champions Non-motorized Transportation
China Champions Non-motorized Transportation
In the 1970s and 1980s China was indeed the undisputed “Kingdom of bicycles.” Now the country, beset with traffic jams and air pollution, is popularizing a return to the good old car-free days.
TRAFFIC jams, air pollution and the need to conserve energy have motivated the Chinese government to promote nonmotorized transportation, namely bicycling and walking.
Non-motorization is the utmost goal of green transportation. It is also a mode various countries have explored in endeavors to build eco-cities. The Chinese government has also been working to achieve this end over the past several years. In 2013 the Ministry of Housing and Urban- Rural Development issued the Guideline on Promoting Construction of Urban Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Systems. Also in the pipeline is a Guide to City Planning and Transportation Design in cities at various levels. Suggestions raised in the 13th Five-Year Plan also maintain that, “lowcarbon transportation will be promoted, public transportation will be prioritized, rail transit will be enhanced, and green transportation such as bicycles will be encouraged.”
Cycling and walking were formerly the norm in China. In the 1970s and 1980s the Middle Kingdom was indeed the undisputed “Kingdom of Bicycles.” But starting from the year 2000, the number of cars spiked. Popularizing a return to the good old car-free days, therefore, will be no easy task.
By the end of 2014, the number of auto vehicles in China had hit 264 million, 154 million of them cars. Estimates show that if the growth rate of cars in China were to slow by two to three percentage points annually, oil consumption would drop 5.8 million tons and carbon emissions would be reduced by 17.80 million tons per year.
Deputy Director of the Institute of Transportation Engineering at Tsinghua University Dr. Yang Xinmiao,
A thousand brand-new bikes for rent are neatly placed in 34 service stations in Zhengdong New District CBD of Zhengzhou, Henan Province.