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Unreasonable City Layout Plagues Traffic

"A big deviation" in city development strategy is the root cause of the traffic jams plaguing China's urbanites, according to an article carried by the latest issue of the weekly Outlook magazine.

A "seriously" unreasonable layout of buildings and roads and "strategically" unbalanced development of the traffic system are all to blame for traffic congestion, said Wang Xiaoguang, author of the article and research fellow of the Macro-economic Studies Institute with the State Development and Reform Commission.

Wang said in his article that city roads are just like parking lots in China today, especially in Beijing, which has been fueled up by an increasing number of automobiles, which numbered over 2 million in 2003.

The central government has, as a matter of fact, invest hugely in traffic systems, but the results turned out to be "hardly satisfying", Wang said.

For example, to alleviate the pressure on roads, the Beijing municipal government has since 2000 spent more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) a year upgrading the local roads. From 1997 to 2002, Beijing's total road length has increased by more than 2,000 kilometers.

However, these efforts still cannot keep up with the need for roads, which arises from Beijing's population growth and urban development. Between 1991 and 2002, the capital's population has increased by nearly 3.8 million, including 1.5 million migrant workers, causing a sharp rise in the number of daily commuters.

Wang listed some "ailments" suffered by Chinese cities in their development, including a lack of a "sustainability" idea in city planning, an underestimation of the increasing number of private cars, an unbalanced distribution of building blocks and roads, and a wrong idea equating "public transportation first" with "buses first".

"It will in turn exert a huge negative impact on China's modernization and urbanization", Wang said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2004)

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