Friday, May 20, 2005

Beijing gains 20,000 cars per month

If you don't own a car in LA, people think there is something wrong with you. Apparently the Chinese have also adopted this ridiculous notion.

A few years ago, Beijing was probably the most bicycle-friendly capital on Earth. A flat, dry city with broad, tree-lined cycle lanes patrolled by protective traffic wardens was perfect for two wheels. The streets teemed with so many bicycles that they became as much a symbol of China as the giant panda.

* * *

These days, the air of Beijing is choked with exhaust emissions. Along with the grit and dust from building sites and sandstorms, that makes bike riding tougher on the lungs than the legs. It is not the only hazard. Drivers frequently invade the bike path, blaring their horns at anyone who gets in their way.

The closer to the city centre, the lower the status of the bike. Soon after the fifth ring road, the bicycle lane halves in width, even though the number of users (which sometimes include horse-drawn carts) more than quadruples.

But it still beats travelling by car, and often is quicker. |Link|
At least in LA the cars usually give you plenty of clearance. I'm back to working days now and so I have been biking to work. For the last seven months I've worked until midnight four days per week. Biking after midnight is fine once in a while, but doing it every day is asking for trouble.
But since I get off at 5 PM now, it is much quicker to bike than to drive.

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