When Paris unveiled its massive bike-sharing program earlier this month, it was the largest in the world, proving to be the envy of other global cities.

Not for long.

Beijing recently announced its plan to have 50,000 bikes available for share by 2008, when they will be hosting the Summer Olympics. The bike-sharing program is expected to take a bite out of traffic congestion and air pollution, which are becoming increasingly damaging problems as more people drive in the city.

Fifty-thousand bikes in a city of 17 million may seem insignificant, but it’s all part of a larger transportation strategy, which includes expanding the subway system to be one of the world’s greatest. It may also include odd-even day driving privileges, where license plates would be divided by odd and even numbers so that only half of the city’s motorists could legally drive each day. This hinges on the success of a four-day pilot program that was completed with mixed results earlier this month.

According to experts, eliminating 1.3 million cars from the streets of Beijing would translate into a 40% cut in carbon dioxide emissions. How does this relate to Miami? Well, beside serving as another example of a another city implementing bike-sharing, it’s very important in the global context of climate change. If China, which per capita only emits a tiny fraction of carbon dioxide that the United States does, continues to rapidly increase vehicle miles traveled, it will make it almost impossible to stabilize global CO2 levels at 550ppm (the largely agreed upon threshold for stemming the worst effects of climate change). Given the geography of South Florida, we should be very much concerned about Chinese emissions and sustainability.

It’s all interconnected.

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7 Responses to Beijing Aims to One-Up Paris

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure where I read the original story but it said that China was pushing out bikes in favor of cars. That bikes which were the primary means of transit for regular folks in China were on the decline. Good to see Cities/Countries trying to be greener and smarter than other towns.


  2. Ryan says:

    You’re right anon, that has been the general trend for several years now. That’s why new programs aimed at reducing automobile usage such as bike-sharing are so important.

    The world is way too “small” now for us to ignore how cities of 17 million people are functioning.


  3. Verticus S. Erectus says:

    Maybe it took a number like 50,000 bikes in the “bike sharing” program to finally get my attention, but that really is a good idea. I’d love to see something like that started here. Unfortunately, there might be one little problem: many if not all of those free bikes will end up on a freighter to Haiti.


  4. Ryan says:

    I understand the concern. However, people in Beijing, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Lyon, and several other cities are not inherently lacking the criminal gene.

    Most of these cities have elaborate security measures embedded in their bike sharing programs, which could be easily replicated in Miami, New York, or any other American city.


  5. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal says:

    Plus the Bikes are linked to a credit card which automatically charges the user $300 or so if the bike is returned within a set time period…

    Unless Stolen credit cards are used to rent the bikes, I can’t foresee them being shipped anywhere easily…


  6. Anonymous says:

    Unless is right…. In Paris they have to worry about stolen bikes heading off to EU Eastern Europe here we have to worry about… just some of the poorest countries in the word. There is no way a program like this would work in Miami. I hate to say.


  7. Ryan says:

    I assume you commented without actually reading the posts, comments above, or watching the video on Paris’s Velib.


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