The four-day Beijing air quality exercise held earlier in the
month was met with mixed reaction.
Diverse opinions were expressed by private car owners and public
During the four days, cars bearing odd and even license plates
were allowed on the roads on alternate days to see what effect this
would have on the reduction of air pollution.
The pictures show the east
fourth ring road of Beijing. The left one was taken at 8:24
August 16 while the right one at 8:17 August 17.
According to a survey by Beijing Youth Daily, 61.9
percent of car owners opposed the practice in a long run while 78.2
percent of public transport users lauded it. The survey covered
On the positive side, the exercise between August 17 and 20,
showed a reduction in haze and smoother traffic flow.
On the negative side, it has sparked further debate on the
number of vehicles in the capital. About 1,000 new cars are
registered every day in the city.
Car owners argued that smoother traffic comes at the expense of
"Does being a car owner mean you have limited rights? That would
be cruel and inhuman," Wang Hongsheng, head of the Volkswagen Polo
club in Beijing, said.
Fifty-seven percent of car owners shared his opinion.
Among non-drivers, 21.9 percent did not think the even-odd plate
exercise was a reasonable, scientific way to gauge air quality.
"It is an arbitrary way of stripping car owners of their rights.
They pay for the convenience," a respondent said.
Apart from the purchase price, the cost of owning a car in
Beijing ranges from 10,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan (US$1,300 to
US$3,900) a year, he said.
The survey also showed 36 percent of car owners were in favor of
"public transport if managed well".
"People are fed up with the poor condition of buses, and the
metro where people are packed like sardines," another said.
On options to improve traffic conditions, 49.9 percent said
efficiency and lowering public transport fares should top the
government's agenda instead of restricting car-ownership.
Twenty-six percent of respondents said more roads and bridges
should be built to reduce congestion, 14.5 percent were in favor of
more flexible parking fees in relation to localities, and 9.5
percent said the use of bicycles, and walking should be
(China Daily August 28, 2007)