China has a population of more than a billion people — four times the population of the United States. Until recently, bicycling and walking reigned supreme throughout most of China as the preferred mode of travel. Yet, since 1978, automobile use on China’s roads has increased more than 20 times! This is due in large part to government crackdowns on bicycles. There are estimates that at the current pace auto usage could quintuple again by 2020.
In some cities like Shanghai, motorists flagrantly disobey traffic signals and barrel through crosswalks while pedestrians are crossing. Unfortunately and amazingly, the pedestrians and bicyclists are being fined! Imagine what would happen if this was the case in Texas? Now, faced with looming energy shortages and increased traffic congestion, China is taking a second look at how it has encouraged the increased use of automobiles and the decrease of bicycling and walking.
But can such crackdowns really happen here in Texas? Do you think car culture is still on the rise, or will we be seeing a decline due to increased gas prices, the rise of global temperatures and an increased focus on public health and obesity? We can’t be sure, but you can be assured that Texas Bicycle Coalition is doing everything we can to prevent such a terrible tide as China is now facing.
The future of bicycling, bicycle and pedestrian-friendly urban areas, and strength of our voice is in YOUR hands. YOU can help us by attending public meetings when we get the word out, voting for candidates who support bicycle and pedestrian projects and keeping your membership current. We can’t do it without your help…not for all the tea in China.