Cars Conquering the Bicycle Kingdom

The Globe and Mail reports:

Last year, China became the world’s second-biggest car market, behind the United States. 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.

The article refers to the foreign bicyclist who was photographed in a confrontation with a motorist and comments:

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.

photo: idogu/Flickr

  • i thought this part of the article was interesting:

    “A recent survey by Chinese state television found that 43 per cent of bicyclists have cut back on biking — and only 11 per cent said it was because they had bought a car. More than one-third of those who quit bicycling said the main reason was the mounting danger in the streets.”

    looks like cyclists in China face similar problems as cyclists here in NYC.

  • Dan

    I think that these articles potentially overstate the shrinking bicycle culture in china. It’s certainly true that the chinese middle class is building car friendly suburbs, but the number of people I saw biking in Shanghai and Beijing is still huge by western standards. Also, Beijing and Shanghai as well as other growing chinese cities are building or expanding mass transit systems at really impressive pace. Beijing has something on the order of six different subway projects underway right now and shanghai has a handful.

  • amy

    Well just visited Shenzhen and was told that the city is acutally trying to outlaw the use of bicycles!!! 🙁

    Bicyclists there were seriously marginalized by teh auto congestion. Keep in mind this is the city in China with the highest GDP.

    In Beijing, sure there are still many bikes but as the coutnry “develops”… well ig uess we’ll see

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