Chinese Mobility from a Bus Window

February 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

We have been fascinated with transportation and mobility options in China for quite some time. A country with roughly the same land area as the United States, but with five times the population, has the potential to serve as a leader relative to our own mobility future.

It’s well known that China has long utilized bicycles as a primary means of transportation, but, with the advent of improved economic opportunities and social mobility, the automobile and it’s accompanying “freedom” has positioned itself at the forefront of the mobility discourse. However, on a recent bus tour through Shanghai, it was evident that “the Paris of the East” still considers the bicycle a practical, economic, and sustainable means of transportation. Dedicated lanes for bicycles, scooters, and buses facilitate safety and convenience and, despite inclement weather, numerous cyclists commute, deliver goods, and actively sustain commerce.

Given their importance within the mobility framework of Shanghai, it’s not surprising to see very creative uses of bicycles. Electric powered bicycles are common, utilized by even upwardly mobile professionals who might otherwise have access to autos.
Examples of electric-powered bicycles.Examples of electric-powered bicycles.

In addition to the bicycle, it was promising to see pedestrians and buses along with automobiles. The Shanghai Metro is extremely convenient, affordable, and quite extensive. Each of these means of transportation contributes to a multi-modal mobility network that minimizes congestion in this vast megalopolis of nearly 20 million residents.

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