Dutch consulting firms Ecofys and Royal HaskoningDHV have, together with the China Academy of Transportation Sciences, developed the Beijing Bicycle Plan to help the city reach its ‘20% cycling in 2020’ goal aimed at achieving more sustainable mobility and regain its World Bicycle Capital status.
The city of Beijing, China, has for many years been experiencing congestion as a result of the increased motorisation, causing delays, economic loss and air pollution among other things. While China seeks to reduce the use of cars in favour of cycling, the use of bikes in the city has actually decreased substantially in recent decades from 63% in 1986 to 14% in 2012, with rating continuing to fall.
20% cycling in 2020
China wants to turn things around and improve the city’s ‘cycling culture’ to regain its World Bicycle Capital status. To accomplish this, Beijing Municipality the city has set as its Urban Master Plan to increase the bicycle share of transportation to at least 20% by 2020. To help the city reach this goal, the Asian Development Bank appointed Dutch consulting firms Ecofys and Royal HaskoningDHV and the China Academy of Transportation Sciences (CATS) to develop the Beijing Bicycle Plan.
Beijing Bicycle Plan
The consortium of Dutch-Chinese experts has in the past year studied Beijing’s current transport situation and explored the reason behind the decline in bicycle use. Resulting its research, the team developed the ‘Beijing Bicycle Strategy and Policy’ aimed at reversing the trend and submitted its recommendations to the Asian Development Bank and Beijing Municipality. “This bicycle plan will help Beijing to become a healthy and bicycle-friendly city for its population of more than 20 million people,” explains Wim van der Wijk, Team Leader and Bicycle Transport Expert at Royal HaskoningDHV.
The research shows that one of the major challenges to encourage Beijing residents to cycle more is the perception around cycling. Van der Wijk explains: “The car is still seen as a status symbol. Cycling is perceived as unsafe, uncomfortable and unhealthy. However, if you want to turn Beijing into a greener and better city to live in, you will have to get people on their bikes.”
According to van der Wijk, the bike should become a serious part of the city’s urban planning. “Our vision for Beijing includes high quality bicycle routes and parking facilities, upgrading and extending the public bicycle sharing system, more trip destinations within bike-able distances and integration of cycling with a high quality public transport system for commuting. Most importantly, it identifies the need for an institutional setting that recognises cycling as an integral part of urban transport planning, with high level politicians and officers promoting cycling with enthusiasm. This requires a cultural change within the existing institutions in power.”
As part of the project, the team has produced a bicycle policy toolkit, which will be made publicly available through the Asian Development Bank and can be used in other major cities across Asia and the Pacific.