Back to Bicycling Basics in Beijing
To address continued air pollution and traffic congestion woes, Beijing is harkening back to its days as the "bicycle kingdom" and introducing policies to encourage more cycling. Photo by Dave-Gray.

To address continued air pollution and traffic congestion woes, Beijing is harkening back to its days as the "bicycle kingdom" and introducing policies to encourage more cycling. Photo by Dave-Gray.

According to The Guardian, 20 years ago, four out of five Beijing residents pedaled around China’s capital in some of the world’s best bike lanes.  However, this number has decreased as private car ownership has gone up. From 1995 to 2005, China’s bike fleet declined by 35 percent while private car ownership more than doubled. Beijing is currently home to four million cars. Last year, China overtook the U.S. in auto sales, with a 46 percent increase in sales over the previous year.  As cities in China have grown, bike lanes have also been eliminated to accommodate more traffic lanes for cars and buses.  By all indications, it’s seemed that Beijing was well on its way to usher in a new king – the automobile.

But is the city of 17 million ready for king car?  Perhaps not, as Beijing’s air quality continues to be poor (last week BeijingAir‘s monitoring station reported a few ‘hazardous’ air quality days). Liu Xiaoming, the director of the Municipal Communications Commission, said in a Xinhua article that the government will “revise and eliminate” regulations that discourage bicycle use and impose greater restrictions on car drivers.  Beijing already has limitations to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, continuing the odd-even li