Rise and Decline of the Bicycle in Beijing

TitleRise and Decline of the Bicycle in Beijing
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMing Yang, Qiuning Wang, Jinhua Zhao, John Zacharias
Conference Name Transportation Research Board 93rd Annual Meeting
KeywordsBeijing, Bicycle, built environment, Transportation Policy

The strong tradition of bicycle use in Beijing has been in continuous decline since the mid1990s with bicycle share of vehicular traffic dropping from 62.7% in 1986 to 38.5% in 2000 and dropping even lower to 16.4% in 2010. Among various factors contributing to the rise and fall of bicycle use in Beijing, four are identified as having the greatest impact: policy and regulation, built environment, bicycle industry and socio-economic conditions. Through a historical review and analysis of the relationship between bicycle use change and the four factors mentioned above, this article reveals the following: (1) the historically inherited, grid street network system and the low rise, high-density housing form contained fundamental features that favoured cycling; (2) the integration of non-motorized modes in the road network, as well as the growing bicycle industry and moderately increased income were major contributing factors of the bicycle boom from the early-1980s to mid-1990s; (3) the National Automobile Industry Policy published in 1994 had a detrimental impact, triggered a dramatic decline of bicycle use. The city’s current transportation planning lacks not only a real interest in sustaining the tradition of bicycle use, but also a clear target and an integrated approach for reviving bicycle use. However, the strong existing bicycle industry, the remaining high level of bicycle ownership, and the shrinking but still preserved bicycle route networks in the city provide solid foundation for a more progressive bicycle planning policy.