For those of you that know how it is in Beijing you will understand how happy I am. There are over 4 million cars registered in Beijing, there are traffic jams almost all day long on the main roads, cars use the bicycle lanes to cut through traffic jams, the bicycle lanes are used as parking lots and some bike lanes have been converted into car lanes or parking lots. What used to be the bicycle capitol of the world has recently become bike hostile. Also cars and buses cut cyclists off, never giving them the right of way.
According to the China Daily news article in an effort to get people back in the saddle again, the local government has now begun an ambitious plan to return byways to eco-friendly cycle routes. The plan was outlined in a directive on Jan 1 from the municipal reform and development commission, which supervises the city’s industries.
The plan calls for better law enforcement to make sure designated bike lanes are only used by cyclists. Bike rental facilities will also be resurrected, with at least 500 stations set to be run by a private enterprise by next year, according to the directive. The authorities will also abandon outdated traffic regulations that marginalize cyclists and make it easier for cyclists to use public transit in populated areas, including the CBD, Zhongguancun and southern Beijing – all to be completed by 2012. The government made the move in the face of rising traffic volume and slower commutes.
This plan, named “Green Commuting”, will also help the city lower emissions, experts said.
“In fact, authorities have been forced to come up with new solutions to solve the city’s traffic deadlock,” said Ou Guoli, a traffic management professor at Beijing Jiaotong University. “Experience from super-sized cities overseas has inspired Beijing to rediscover the lost art of cycling.” Ou said cycling may well take off again, but not before the authorities clear the way by rewriting traffic rules, issuing favorable policies for bike rentals and tightening measures to prevent bike thefts.
This is such great news! I am so happy that the government has come up with this “Green Commuting” plan. This plan will encourage the use of bicycle in the city. And it will make cycling in Beijing safer again. What a bright future! Maybe there will also be some regulations on having less cars in the traditional Beijing hutongs, or even turning them into pedestrian and cycling zones.