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Car-focused development neglecting pedestrians and cyclists

This article was posted by in Features and published

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Monday morning a 56-year-old woman was crossing the road illegally near the west end of the Xihua Tunnel and was hit by a car, with the collision breaking her pelvis.

The accident itself was not unusual, but it did get Kunming Information Hub to take a look into why the woman was crossing the street illegally. The government-run news website's conclusion: pedestrians and cyclists are going where they shouldn't go because there are no convenient options.

Cities undergoing the kind of rapid change experienced by Kunming over the last 10 years often have growing pains, but it has become impossible even for government-run local media to ignore the fact that while more and more space has been handed over to cars, the needs of pedestrians and cyclists have largely been overlooked.

Almost anywhere one goes in town, it is easy to see people illegally crossing the road, but it is not always the pedestrians' fault. On many Kunming roads, crossing at the nearest intersection as one is supposed to do is often significantly more dangerous than doing so at a non-legal crossing. In other places, as Kunming Information Hub notes, there are simply no legal ways for pedestrians or cyclists to continue down some major roads.

In addition to the lack of consideration of pedestrian and cyclist needs in the recent road infrastructure overhaul by government planners, the average Kunming motorist ignores the significance of marked crosswalks (zebra crossings) – assuming that the crosswalks are still visible. This seems to discourage the average pedestrian from crossing where they're being told to do so.

There are signs that the city government is trying to break out of a car-centric development model – a bicycle path is being built around Dianchi Lake and construction recently began on Kunming's first two metro lines - but with 900 newly registered motorized vehicles hitting the streets daily, it may be a while before pedestrians and cyclists feel that they are being considered as part of the city's future.

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Comments

Liumingke1234

It's crazy! Sometimes you have to walk a long, long, long way before you can cross the street. Even the space for the pedestrian is being overtaken by park e-bike. Not even the 'blind' can use the 'blind mark' part of the street.

James

Wow, Kunming not pedestrian friendly! How many committee meetings did it take to work that one out?

Much more of this and local government will establish the answer to alchemy, the universe, meaning of life AND even decode crop circles and zebra crossings.

Spot on article. On Beijing Lu there are plenty of places where you have the choice between taking a 500 meter detour walk or crossing 6-8 lanes of traffic dodging cars, scooters and cement trucks with your fingers crossed. And as Liumingke points out bike lanes and sidewalks are frequently full of parked cars and scooters so you often HAVE to walk on the street itself to get around. Kunming is ripe for some serious cases of road rage.

no_crosswalks

plans are made by committee members.

committee members who drive cars.
all their friends drive cars, right?
and who doesn't drive?...peasants.
why, they can't even afford a 'lectrik bike!
now who's gonna plan a city around peasants?
...............they don't vote.

Chris

@no_crosswalks - but I bet the city would soon wake up if those 'peasants' stopped bringing food in!!!! Those 'peasants' are an essential part of city life that city dwellers often overlook. They deserve a damn sight more respect than they get.

2get2theotherside

I've been here since 99, and have noticed such an incredible rise to the chaos in the last 3 months. Granted I do live in the North near BJ road where all the subway construction is taking place which is making drivers more irritable and impatient than ever. I had 2 closer than usual brushes with death yesterday. Not like the normal close calls I used to have in the path. One driver really had a plow down everything in his path look in his eyes that was genuinely scary. Wonder what the stats are on pedestrian hits in this city?

Who cares? The government doesn't. Everytime I see a car wreck I actualy crack a smile because I'm sick and tired of those son's of B%$*#$ thinking that they own the road. And I know it was there own fault for driving without thinking of the consequences.

@Liumingke1234

i can relate. i get off on seeing yellow parking tickets fluttering from the sides of illegally parked cars. especially when they're stuck to police cars :)

driver's viewpoint

You all look at it from the pedestrian viewpoint, perhaps.

You should get a license, buy a vehicle, and try to drive in The Land of Eternal Selfishness (Kunming). Then your narrow-minded ignorance would be washed away in the filth of Chinese selfishness known as Kunming.

Ten years ago there were almost no electric bicycles or motorcycles, not so many cars, and still the people crossed illegally. It's just the way Chinese people are ... selfish — do not care about others — do not obey the law.

There are now too many electric bicycles, and small motorcycles, for the bike lane. And those jerks drive wherever they want to (they're Chinese, right?). The problem is not the cars, it's those 2-wheel Chinese jerks! Roads are built for cars, not peasants, walkers, or little cycles. They have their own lanes, they're just not using them.

Granted, whoever is responsible for road construction is clueless about the proper way to do it, and does not care about traffic flow ... be it walking, 2-wheel, or 4-wheel.

The Chinese people need to go to a developed country and learn how to do things properly. They are their own worst enemy!

xieyiming

@no_crosswalks. You said peasants don't matter because they don't vote. Guess what, nobody else votes either! It's China, remember?

pedestrians seems to be an after thought here. Traffic death statistics don't even count in pedestrians most of the time, only people killed in auto collisions.

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