Resisting Car Culture In China
More Chinese are abandoning their bicycles -- not because they now own cars but because the dramatic increase in automobile use is making city streets too dangerous for cycling. But cyclists are fighting back.
"In the 1970s, private cars were almost non-existent in China, but over the past decade vehicle ownership has skyrocketed. Last year, the country became the world's second-biggest car market, behind the United States. Sales of new vehicles in China (including cars, trucks and buses) soared 25 per cent last year to reach 7.2 million. The total number of motor vehicles in China is projected to reach 130 million within the next 15 years. In Beijing alone, there are 1,000 new cars on the streets every day. As a result, bicycles are increasingly being squeezed to the margins. The streets are choked with traffic and automobile fumes. New roads are sometimes built without any bike lanes. Hundreds of bicyclists are killed in collisions with cars every year. Pedal power has become so life-threatening that many Chinese have abandoned their bicycles. All of this is provoking a backlash across China. A movement is emerging to promote the rights of bicyclists. Environmentalists are calling for bike lanes to be restored and expanded. Newspapers are crusading on behalf of bicyclists, investigating the scandal of roads without bike lanes."
Source: The Globe and Mail, Jan 20. (Thanks to Matt in Detroit for the tip)