The new municipal government has set its sights on what has become a perennial problem in Kunming: traffic. The city is proposing stricter enforcement of existing laws plus measures such as more public parking spaces and the introduction of a congestion fee, according to a Yunnan Net report.
At a January 9 meeting of provincial and municipal officials, including new Kunming Party Secretary Zhang Tianxin (张田欣), it was announced that the city now has more than 1.5 million motorized vehicles on its roads, an increase of 200,000 vehicles since December 2010.
If such statistics are accurate, then it would appear that the number of new vehicle registrations in Kunming has dropped from 240,000 in 2010 to approximately 200,000 in 2011, the first decline in new vehicle registrations in more than ten years.
Addressing Kunming's increasingly congested streets has been an uphill battle for the city government during the rapid growth in private car ownership over the last decade. During this time, more and more drivers are driving and parking on sidewalks, and one driver has even taken to driving on pedestrian bridges.
A variety of measures have been taken, most of them only offering temporary relief, such as converting major traffic arteries into one-way streets, building an overpass at Xiao Ximen, adding an elevated road to the second ring road and construction of a third ring road.
The city is currently proposing charging a congestion fee for downtown drivers for the first time, as well as revisiting the idea of building parking garages, which in early 2009 seemed to be a priority but subsequently saw little follow-through. The only information made public about the proposed congestion fee and increase in public parking is that the goal of these actions will be to reduce the number of cars on the road downtown.
Despite the successes and failures of previous measures adopted by the Kunming government, it is too early to judge the resoluteness of the city government under party chief Zhang, who recently replaced Qiu He (仇和) a get-things-done leader who oversaw many of the aforementioned improvements to the city's traffic infrastructure.
In general, whenever the city government experiences a leadership change, major traffic infrastructure projects and other initiatives follow. In what may be a sign of a tougher attitude toward the increasing electric bike traffic, police at checkpoints throughout the city were busy today conducting random registration checks on electric bike drivers.
If the city's stated goal to increase enforcement of traffic laws is sincere, it would seem that one of the biggest challenges it faces is in coordinating the efforts of police, traffic police and chengguan (城管, city management officers) in an integrated and efficient manner. It is not uncommon for these different departments to work at cross purposes or leave enforcement work to the other two. Eliminating the inefficiencies in the relationship between these three arms of the city government would be likely to improve enforcement and in turn encourage Kunming drivers to obey traffic laws.© Copyright 2005-2021 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.