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Can We Learn from China’s Stimulus?

As our own economic-recovery package moves through Congress, Streetsblog Network member Stimulus Bike looks at the massive stimulus spending on transportation being rolled out in China, which was analyzed in a recent New York Times article. Much of China’s money is going to high-speed rail, according to the Times:

3015770446_12d50b9a09.jpgStill on the bike in Beijing. Photo by Laura Conaway.

China
will spend $88 billion constructing intercity rail lines, the
highest priority in the plan. It spent $44 billion last year and just
$12 billion as recently as 2004, said John Scales, the transport
coordinator for China at the World Bank….

Feng
Fei, the director general of industrial economics at the policy
research unit of China’s cabinet, the State Council, said that steep
increases in railroad investments would create lasting benefits. The
goal is to slow China’s dependence on personal cars and imported oil,
to reduce air pollution and to relieve the annual shortage of seats on
trains during Chinese New Year, when millions of people visit their
families, he said.

Stimulus Bike also makes
the point that despite the recent rise of the car in China, the
nation’s people still rely heavily on bicycles for transportation.
Obviously, the differences between our nations are many, but can we
take some lessons from China’s vision for the future of mobility?

Speaking
of bicycles as transportation, here are some hopeful signs on that
front from elsewhere around the network: According to Pennsylvania blog
Walk and Bike Berks County,
a township planning commission in Denver, PA, is calling for developers
of a new shopping center to provide "bicycle racks around the parking
lot to accommodate …families who rely on bicycles for
transportation." Kudos to the planning commission for recognizing that
families can rely on bicycles for transportation.

Also, in Detroit, M-Bike.org
notes that the city’s new mayor, Ken Cockrel — a cyclist who is
committed to a green agenda — has fundamentally changed the city’s
attitude toward bikes for the better. Cockrel came to office after the
previous scandal-plagued mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, resigned. He’ll be
running for election in a special primary this spring, and it sounds
like he’s got a good shot at the livable streets vote.