transportation patterns (urban)

The Chinese urban landscape is characterized by different forms of mobility. Under the socialist regime, Chinese cities were initially designed for pedestrians and bicycles. The urban transportation pattern was undertaken in the context of proximity space where place of residence and employment were integrated. China’s cities’ narrow street system was not built to accommodate modern transportation. Bicycles were the main users of road capacity. The flow of hundreds of thousands of bicycles was the main contributor to urban traffic congestion. China has chosen to reduce the transport demand by a functional integration of urban space. Rapid economic growth led to new forms of spatial organization where the most important phenomena in terms of urban transportation patterns are expansion in road capacity and motorization.
The introduction of market-based reforms led to the planning, development and expansion of a new urban road system. A new pattern of road network is emerging from the foundation of the old dense street layout. Chinese cities are expanding their transportation network and modernizing portions of the system by building new facilities and widening street segments. China’s urban transportation infrastructure comprises networks of ring roads, radial routes and high-performance expressways superimposed over the pattern of intricate narrow street system. The emerging road network changes the land use pattern of Chinese cities through the multiplication of specialized urban districts and the expansion of economic space towards peripheral areas.
Various aspects of urban life are undertaken outside the spatial and organizational limits of the work unit. Traffic generation and attraction are gradually separated to induce increase in trip length. The urban road hierarchy defines the traffic function of each street and segregates motorized and non-motorized transport. Movements by bicycle and collective public transport remain the most important in terms of passengers carried. But the increasing income of urban residents is stimulating the demand for mobility.
A growing proportion of trips rely on minibuses, taxis, motorcycles and personal vehicles. The motorization of individual trips is stimulated by the Chinese government policy for the development of an automobile industry. Much of the new urban transport infrastructures are inscribed within the framework of increasing the flow of motorized vehicles. China already recognizes that the passage towards motorized mobility is creating negative environmental impacts. Several models of urban transport pattern are being planned to manage the soaring demand for the use of road space. The management of the massive flow of vehicles is stimulating the quest for high technology, such as intelligent transport systems, as a solution to urban transport problems. Some Chinese cities are already seeking the development of a comprehensive public transport system as an alternative to cars and motorcycles. Improvements in urban transportation demand is also offered by underground metro lines and powerful urban rail transit schemes being planned or under construction. Adapting the different mobility behaviour of Chinese urban citizens to the transformation of the urban landscape is becoming the key challenge for China’s urban policy-makers.
See also: cars and taxis
CLAUDE COMTOIS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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