News / Asia

Beijing Limits Car Ownership to Ease Road Congestion

Vehicles are seen in a traffic jam during weekday rush hour in Beijing, 10 Jan 2011
Vehicles are seen in a traffic jam during weekday rush hour in Beijing, 10 Jan 2011

Since opening up its economy 30 years ago, China has gone from being a nation of bicycle riders to being the world’s largest car market. But now its major cities face traffic gridlock. To clear the roads, Beijing’s government has started a lottery system for new car licenses.

Cars are among the new status symbols of China’s growing middle class. New passenger car sales in China last year rose 33 percent to 13.8 million.

But all those cars are causing new problems for the country, including huge traffic jams.

Despite huge investments in roads and mass transit in the sprawling Chinese capital, Beijing’s roads can not cope with the increasing number of cars. A global survey by technology company IBM last year showed that Beijing commuters spend the longest time on the road.

Sixty-nine percent of Beijing respondents said that during the past three years, traffic had been so bad they had turned around and gone home.

"The government has mobilized a large amount of financial resources for building infrastructure for highways, urban street and mass rail transit," said Liu Zhi, the lead infrastructure specialist in East Asia and the Pacific at the World Bank. He works in Beijing. "But the growth of the infrastructure capacity cannot be as fast as car ownership because of limitation of space," he added.

In its latest move to ease gridlock, the Beijing municipal government this month capped the number of new car licenses at 240,000 this year, one third of the licenses issued in 2010. The licenses will be issued through a lottery.

Liu says while Beijing continues to invest in infrastructure, limits on car use are also needed.

"I think it’s very important now for developing cities how to use the demand-side measure [measures to cut demand] to manage the motorization process," said Liu. "I’m glad to see that Beijing is moving toward to the demand-side solution."

Some Beijing residents welcome the new measures. This 50-year-old man says he stopped using his car and now rides his bicycle because of the traffic.

He says he does not think that the government should impose too many restrictions but at the same time there are too many people buying cars. He says the city has developed too fast. The streets have expanded too fast, the population has grown too fast.

However, Wang Ye, a housewife, thinks the restrictions are not useful. She says the existing number of cars already makes the city crowded.

She thinks the measures are random, as if you are sick, and a doctor comes and gives you a random medicine and tells you that you will be well. She says there is no guarantee that you will feel better.

Beijing also will increase parking fees and more strictly enforce traffic rules.

Other fast developing cities in Asia have had similar traffic problems in the past. Bangkok, another sprawling metropolis, had notorious traffic jams in the 1990s.

The city built a mass transport system that reduced the need for people to drive around the city center, although traffic jams that last hours are still common. And the city has warned residents that the construction of new commuter rail lines, which begins this year, will worsen congestion for the next three years.

Liu says it takes time see changes.

"In the longer term, as long as we are moving to the right direction and to manage private car and traffic development in the city, and with more public transport in the future, and with the demand-side measures in place that is accepted by the public, I’m sure the traffic condition will get back to a much better managed situation than today," he said.

As the number of cars increased in China, safety has also become an issue. Many new car buyers are new drivers with little training. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health and China Central South University say the number of traffic-related deaths nationwide may be more than double the police report.

They say that in 2007 for example, as many 221,135 people died in traffic accidents based on death certificates, compared with the 81,649 traffic deaths the police report.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid