Auto sales expected to surpass 17m (2)

09:56, October 12, 2010      

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Planning needed

The boom of the sector has been a cause of celebration in the nation's automobile industry, but it has also led to concerns over congestion and pollution and presented a tough test to policy-makers in city planning and construction nationwide.

Take Beijing, for instance. Beijing's traffic woes will become unbearable by 2015 as 7 million cars will hit the capital's already-jammed roads, and the average rush-hour driving speed is expected to be reduced to 15 kilometers per hour, or running speed, Guo Jifu, director of the Beijing Municipal Transport Commission, told reporters recently.

Sheng Guangyao, a senior researcher from the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that congestion is not only about cars and roads, but the result of highly concentrated infrastructure and the long distance between residences and downtown.

"The Americans have been aware of this since the 1970s. But we can't fully copy their experience because we have a really large population," Sheng said.

Sheng also pointed out the obstacles that the sharp increase of cars presents to urban planning.

"Our traffic control is way behind the speed of the increase in the number of cars," he said.

"We used to ignore transportation routes in urban planning, but now we not only pay more attention to traffic but also to the improvement of the outlying areas."

"The government needs to establish education, entertainment and medical care facilities in new residential areas to decrease pressure on traffic, as the current distribution is not balanced," Niu Fengrui, director of the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said.

He said that another reason for congestion is that the public transportation supply cannot meet the demand.

"The quality of public transportation currently only supports 20 percent of the city's population but should shoulder 40 to 60 percent of it," he added.

The increasing number of cars is the major contributor to air and noise pollution as well as the rise in respiratory diseases.

With an improvement both in the economy and income, the second- and third-tier mar-kets are expected to become the most important fresh destination for auto consumption within a longer time in the future, Li Yuansheng, an expert in researching the second- and third-tier markets, was quoted as saying earlier.

Liu Linlin and Guo Qiang contributed to this story

Source: Global Times
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