China Daily Article on Bike for Better Beijing

The original article by China Daily is here.

More than 80 percent of Beijing’s office workers are willing to saddle up and commute to work by bicycle, according to a report released on Saturday.

But the report adds that the would-be cyclists will not be choosing the green option unless a list of prerequisites is met first.

Top of the list is the need for safe bicycle lanes that are not used by car drivers for parking.

The office workers said they would also need to feel confident that their bikes will not be stolen because the theft of cycles is rampant in the capital.

And their final demand is that a more convenient and efficient bike rental system is developed, especially near subway stations.

The report, conducted by China Mainland Marketing Research Co, together with another report named Bike for a Better Beijing, which was released on the same day by Friends of Nature, point out challenges facing cyclists in the city.

„Motor vehicles are the priorities in the design of Beijing’s road systems, making it dangerous to cycle in the city,“ said Li Bo, head of Friends of Nature in China.

Li said about 75 percent of interviewees who took part in the research said Beijing lacks parking lots designed for bikes.

„Too many people have had their bikes stolen, so they only ride shabby ones instead, which makes riding a bike shameful instead of fashionable.“

In addition, the bike rental industry in Beijing has faced challenges because it requires high investment but has low usage.

Wang Yong, president of the Beijing Bicycle Rental Co, said he had invested more than 50 million yuan in the business since 2005. He said business had been so bad that almost all of his rivals had left the market during the past five years.

Guo Haiyan, vice-president of the Chinese Cycling Association, said the main reason for the low take-up rate for bike rentals was the lack of convenience.

„The number of motor vehicles is growing so fast in Beijing, exceeding 4.5 million and occupying so much space,“ she said. „It is not an exaggeration to call the city ‚a flowing parking lot‘.“

Guo said, with all the problems caused by motor vehicles, it is high time to slow down and think about what would make Beijing a „livable city“.

Shannon Bufton, an Australian who is the founder of Smarter Than Car, an NGO dedicated to promoting the use of bikes in Beijing, said the idea of a livable city has evolved in the West.

He said in the 1940s, Western countries used to believe in motor vehicles as a more convenient mode of travel but, 20 years later, severe congestion hit many countries, just as it is doing in Beijing right now.

He cited Copenhagen as an example of how a city can evolve past the stage Beijing is now at. The city used to be crowded with cars before the government made part of the city center car-free.

„It is the idea of ‚reconquering cities‘ initiated by Danish designers, which means reclaiming the city center from cars for people.“

Denmark is one of the nations with the highest GDP but despite its affluence, Danish people choose to cycle, even in the winter.

Another role model for Beijing is Bogota, capital of Colombia, he said.

Bufton said the use of bikes in the city has multiplied nine times in the past five years and special wide lanes have been created down the center of roads for cyclists to use.

„People have to get out of their cars to experience the advantages of cycling but all the advantages are based on convenience,“ Wang added.

„When we see rich people and celebrities driving their cars every day and when it is almost impossible to find a place to park your bike; when all the roads are designed for motor vehicles, it is ridiculous to ask the public to ride a bike.“


There was also an article about the „Bike for Better Beijing“ published in the Global Times.
Today was also an article about the very bad traffic jams in Beijing the past few days.
Just a few days ago was an article in China Daily about how it is not easy to cycling in Beijing with all the cars in the city.

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