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Three predictions about the future of the bicycle
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16:10, June 08, 2009

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Prediction 1:

The bicycle will be ultimately replaced by the automobile

The bicycle, as a main replacement to walking, was an outcome of the primary civilization of the industrial revolution, and also a result of small towns and straggler production models. For example, in Hangzhou, people can get to any place in the city by bike in between 20 and 30 minutes in the past. But now, the area of Hangzhou has been expanded to over 3,000 square kilometers, and in addition, the space of their daily lives is also expanding, so the bicycle is not able to satisfy the people's requirements of travelling any more.

Forbidding bicycles as a transportation tool is an inevitable measure for modernized metropolises. As a transportation method, the bicycle has a lot of disadvantages. First, safety of the cyclist cannot be guaranteed, second, travelling by bicycle is slow and uncomfortable and third, the cyclist usually breathes in a lot of harmful car exhaust fumes which are very bad for the health of the cyclists.

According to statistics from the Chinese Cycling Association, the number of bicycles owned by every 100 households has dropped from the figure for 1998 of over 180 bicycles to the current figure of over 140 bicycles in cities and towns across China. The bicycle's status as an important means of transportation will be ultimately replaced by automobiles, as a result of the ongoing transition from a bicycle era to an automobile era.

A supporter for such a viewpoint: Car mechanic Cheng Wei

As a member of the huge cycling population, Cheng Wei currently works in an auto body shop on Xueyuan Road. Although Cheng is not faring as well as expected in the shop, he remains attracted to it and persists in his work dynamic because he does not have enough money to purchase a car, but still can satisfy his cravings for a car there. In less than three months, Cheng have already driven several dozen car models when test driving cars including BMW, Santana and Benz, and it seems that he has test driven all models of luxury cars. He says he really wants to buy a car and will do it as soon as conditions permit, after which commuting to work will become much easier. It is now every cyclist's dream that a day will ultimately come when they will be able to throw away their bicycles, which they have relied on for so long, and sit behind a steering wheel.

Prediction 2:

The bicycle will have another revival

"The bicycle era will be a restored kingdom someday," said Zhou Fuduo, a traffic research expert, as well as a professor with the Department of Regional and Urban Planning of Zhejiang University, in putting forward his contrary opinion.

Zhou believes that the diversification of transportation methods does not indicate a final renouncement of the bicycle by the people. He notes that as people's awareness of environmental protection and fitness increases, they will pick up this type of transportation tool again, and thanks to cycling's charm as a sport, more and more young people will become attracted to the bicycle. There will be a new era that awaits the bicycle.

Prediction 3:

Convenient public transportation will catch up from behind

"Offering fast, convenient and comfortable public transportation services will be the major task in the effort to satisfy transportation needs of city residents in the future," so believes an expert with Hangzhou Public Transport Group who has over 20 years experience in urban transportation research.

On June 5, Xu Kangming, a transportation expert with the Energy Foundation in the US, will visit Hangzhou to investigate the development of high-speed public transportation there. He said during an interview with reporters that according to the experiences of developed nations in defining a relatively reasonable, scientific structure and proportion in relation to transportation means, over 60 percent of all city residents should choose public transportation, and 20 to 30 percent should choose bicycles while the proportion of those travelling by a private car or taxi should be controlled below 10 percent.

By People's Daily Online/Zhejiang Daily

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