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Plummeting Bike Use in Beijing, and the Need for a Global Strategy

165424224_8cce727f77.jpgCan this trend be reversed in Beijing?
(Photo: crypt K.
via Flickr)

Today on the Streetsblog Network, Eco
has a post about the precipitous decline in bicycling in

According to a recent article published by Agence France-Presse(AFP), increasing affluence in China has caused the rate of bicycleridership in Beijing to drop from a high of 80 percent in the 1980s toless than 20 percent today. Though 20 percent is still very high by U.S. standards, the drop is nothing short of stunning. The results of thisdramatic increase in driving are predictable, with massive traffic jamsand intense smog now the norm.

Commenter Lovely Bicycle adds this thought:

This just goes to show that when bicycle use is high fromnecessity alone, it is not a stable situation. Only when the *status* of the bicycle in society changes, will its future be guaranteed.

Which brings us back to the idea we wrote about earlier in the
week. How is it that we can achieve that perceived
increase in status
for bicycling here in the United States -- and
around the world? Or is that even the best route to increasing mode

The situation in Beijing shows just how high the stakes are on a
global scale, and how diffuse and localized the solutions will need to
be. How can we use the tools we have to create those solutions?

As I write this, I am sitting in the Personal
Democracy Forum 2010 conference
. Most of the people here are
struggling with these same types of questions, no matter their political
persuasion or the cause they want to advance. I hope to share some of
the strategies I'm hearing about with all of you over the next couple of

More from around the network: Car
Free With Kids
on the uncommon phenomenon of common courtesy. Cap'n
on the priorities of transit managers. And American
on the difference between a neighborhood and a subdivision (is
it real?).

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