Plummeting Bike Use in Beijing, and the Need for a Global Strategy

165424224_8cce727f77.jpgCan this trend be reversed in Beijing? (Photo: crypt K. via Flickr)

Today on the Streetsblog Network, Eco Velo has a post about the precipitous decline in bicycling in Beijing:

According to a recent article published by Agence France-Presse
(AFP), increasing affluence in China has caused the rate of bicycle
ridership in Beijing to drop from a high of 80 percent in the 1980s to
less than 20 percent today. Though 20 percent is still very high by
U.S. standards, the drop is nothing short of stunning. The results of
this dramatic increase in driving are predictable, with massive traffic
jams and intense smog now the norm.

Commenter Lovely Bicycle adds this thought:

This just goes to show that when bicycle use is high from necessity
alone, it is not a stable situation. Only when the *status* of the
bicycle in society changes, will its future be guaranteed.

Which brings us back to the idea we wrote about earlier in the week. How is it that we can achieve that perceived increase in status for bicycling here in the United States — and around the world? Or is that even the best route to increasing mode share?

The situation in Beijing shows just how high the stakes are on a
global scale, and how diffuse and localized the solutions will need to
be. How can we use the tools we have to create those solutions?

As I write this, I am sitting in the Personal Democracy Forum 2010 conference.
Most of the people here are struggling with these same types of
questions, no matter their political persuasion or the cause they want
to advance. I hope to share some of the strategies I’m hearing about
with all of you over the next couple of weeks.

More from around the network: Car Free With Kids on the uncommon phenomenon of common courtesy. Cap’n Transit on the priorities of transit managers. And American Dirt on the difference between a neighborhood and a subdivision (is it real?).

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Wiki Wednesday: Beijing

|
All the overhead shots of the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube on NBC’s Olympic coverage don’t leave much room for views of Beijing’s streets. But that’s where much of the commotion about smog, absentee athletes and particle masks originates. While the city has taken the unwieldy step of rationing license plates to clear the […]

Back to the Future, by Bicycle

|
When does going backward mean progress? When you’re talking about bicycle use in the city of Beijing. According to Streetsblog Network member The City Fix, Chinese officials have woken up to the idea that the city’s traditional bicycling culture, which has been in sharp decline over the last 20 years, should be restored and fostered: […]

Now the Times Is Just Rubbing It In

|
Photo: Times Here at LA Streetsblog, we spend a lot of time looking at some of the bicycle and pedestrian designs from around the world and going "why not us?"  Budapest.  Copehnagen.  Beijing.  Heck, even Tempe and Baltimore are doing better when it comes to supporting cyclists. Well, thanks to the Times, we have a […]

City Hall Vision Zero Forum Foreshadows Culture Change for L.A.

|
Last night, the city of Los Angeles welcomed national safe streets advocate Leah Shahum at a forum discussing what Vision Zero will mean for Los Angeles. For the uninitiated, Vision Zero is a road safety policy that adopts the goal of zero traffic deaths. That zero applies to everyone: people walking, driving, riding, etc. Vision Zero stems […]