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Sustainable Transport in China

Everyone should experience the joys of sustainable transport and understand the importance of sustainable transport


  1. What is sustainable transport
  2. Changes in transport
  3. The current situation of bicycle sharing in China
  4. How to develop sustainable transport in the future


What is sustainable transport

In China, there is a proverb that summarizes the importance of transport: to get rich, first build roads.

This proverb illustrates the close link between transport and the economy, and the importance of transport.

Transport is a central element in the functioning of cities, in economic development and in the foundation of society. Transport brings people and goods to their designated places and provides for the exchange of goods and basic services. Transport plays a role in the functioning of cities, acting like a blood vessel, carrying energy to all parts of the body.

Sustainable transport refers to ways of transportation that are sustainable in terms of their social and environmental impacts. components for evaluating sustainability include the particular vehicles used for road, water or air transport; the source of energy; and the infrastructure used to The components for evaluating sustainability include the particular vehicles used for road, water or air transport; the source of energy; and the infrastructure used to accommodate the transport (roads, railways, airways, waterways, canals and terminals) .

Fig 1. Sustainable Transport Graphics

Changes in transport

The bicycle has played an important role in the history of mobility in developing countries, with the elements of cheapness, convenience and popularity making it a popular means of transport for people in developing countries. However, with urban expansion, population growth, rising incomes, commercial and industrial development, and a growing demand for travel in developing countries, more and more people are choosing and seeking to own a fast, convenient, relatively safe, point-to-point, 24-hour, cargo-carrying, and status symbol: the ‘personal car’.

Although bicycles were still an important mode of transport, city managers slowly decided that the presence of bicycles was a hindrance to economic development, so they embedded the concept of ‘cars = necessity = better quality of life’ in people’s minds. Because developing the car industry boosts GDP and solves jobs.

Behind these proud figures from the point of view of economic development are a series of livelihood problems caused by the sacrifice of the environment at any cost: destruction of the ecosystem and deterioration of the living conditions of the indigenous population due to oil extraction, public health problems due to air pollution, local and regional environmental degradation and the accelerated death of endangered species, and the worsening of social inequalities.

The development and problems of bike-sharing in China

With the promotion of green and sustainable development strategies, the overall planning of cities needs to revolve around how to reduce carbon emissions and improve ecology, and the concept of low-carbon city construction permeates all aspects of the lives of the general public. In the context of advocating low-carbon travel, the shared transport mode represented by bicycle sharing has come into being, reflecting the urban development concept of innovation, coordination, green, openness and sharing. At the same time, there are many problems and hidden dangers in its operation that need to be addressed.

Fig 2. Shared bikes are everywhere on the roadside

Bicycle sharing is a service that is put and launched in schools, bus stations and other locations in collaboration between companies and the government (Gao,Qiang.and Kong,Xiangzhi.,2020.). It has changed the perception that people have the right to use rather than possess a product, allowing for the rational circulation of social resources, saving social resources and offering greater possibilities for achieving green mobility(Li, Ruoshan. and Qin, Xi.,2020).

The emergence of bicycle sharing has largely solved the problem of short-distance travel for the public, which is one of the fundamental reasons for its public acceptance. Despite its positive impact on the development of society, it also has its own problems, such as random placement and difficulties in management and maintenance, which in a way hinder its healthy development. Therefore, it is an issue that needs to be considered and solved by all operators to ensure that the positive effects of the bikes are effectively played and that the problems are solved as far as possible.

Fig 2. Abandoned shared bicycles

Advantages of bicycle sharing.

  • Promote green and low-carbon life, relieve traffic pressure and reduce air pollution.
  • Promote the overall development of the industry chain, including network platforms and public participation
  •  Improve public well-being. Most of the bicycle sharing drop-off points are concentrated in universities, metro stations and bus stops, providing great convenience for commuting.

Disadvantages of bicycle sharing.

  • Malicious damage and private possession of shared bicycles, which in turn affects the use of others.
  • Safety threats caused by unregulated parking. Many users do not put their bicycles in the parking area after use, but find a random location to park them, which can affect traffic and even cause traffic accidents.
  • The management of bicycle sharing companies is not high. The daily management and maintenance of bicycles is not a priority, which can affect the user experience.
  • Road traffic limitations in cities, many cities do not have safe bike lanes, and the use of the same lanes for bikes and motor vehicles can cause safety problems.

How to develop sustainable transport in the future

  • Encourage walking to reduce the threat to life safety from road traffic accidents, environmental pollution such as air and noise, family problems caused by excessively long commutes, and physical illnesses from lack of exercise due to dependence on motor vehicles (Krzyżanowski, M., Kuna-Dibbert, B. and Schneider, J. eds., 2005).
  • From an urban design perspective, the aim should be to create urban networks for walking, cycling and public transport, and to reduce car dependency.


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