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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

This can’t be true progress

From the Albany Democrat Herald in New York 12.04.06:

People in China are repeating one of the mistakes that human beings keep making in the modern age. They are getting rid of a simple transportation device that costs little and are replacing it with one that is more comfortable but also costs much more and has to be replaced more often.

The capital, Beijing, is spreading out to accommodate millions upon millions of new residents. Because of longer commutes, and because they want to be modern, residents are buying cars as fast as they can and abandoning their bicycles. The result, already evident, is impenetrable gridlock, a vast accumulation of air pollution and a huge rise in traffic deaths. About a thousand Beijing bicyclists reportedly died in collisions with cars in 2004.

The American media are typically enthusiastic about calling attention to the misguided policies of other nations, especially when the critiqued nation is emerging as the primary rival to U.S. global hegemony. A little Sinophobia anyone?

One wonders if the Albany Democrat Herald will be as inspired when local bicyclists demand removal of parking spaces in Albany to create a bike lane. Still, the rapid erosion of bicycling in China is disappointing, and this article does provide a heartfelt case for "thoughtful progress." When will human beings of all nationalities smell the petrol fumes and wake up to the possibilities of life beyond vehicles?

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Bikes, China's icon, thrive despite car invasion, Associated Press
Visit: Bicycle Kingdom (slideshow), MSNBC
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

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