Ground was broken yesterday on a new bicycle and pedestrian path that will encircle Dianchi Lake and will be off limits to motorized vehicles, according to Kunming media reports.
The so-called "Dianchi Landscape Path" (环滇池景观道) will be a total of 75.75 kilometers (47 miles) long. In addition to offering views of the heavily polluted, occasionally miasmatic but generally scenic Dianchi Lake, the path will also be accompanied by a landscaped green belt. It is scheduled for completion within two years.
The path's construction comes at a time when fewer Kunming residents are riding bicycles and more are driving their own cars or riding electric bicycles. Not so long ago, a two-day bicycle ride around the lake on the roads encircling Dianchi Lake was a popular weekend getaway for university students to get some exercise, or more often, for young lovers to escape from the lack of privacy of dorm life.
Today, local media often refers to Kunming as Ducheng (堵城), loosely meaning "Congestion City", as cars have taken over the city. Car ownership rates are climbing quickly and at last count more than 560 motorized vehicles were being registered in the city each day.
With most of the city's road resources being mobilized to deal with more and more cars, the Dianchi Landscape Path is a rare investment in Kunming's cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
Not surprisingly, the path's construction is the lesser half of the 8.8 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) "Two Rings" construction project that also includes renovation of Huanhu Lu (环湖路), the road that encircles Dianchi Lake, which will be constructed into an eight-lane highway.
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