Friday, 9 September 2011

Bikes in Beijing, Brighton and Hove

According to songstress Katie Melua “There Are Nine Million Bicycles in Beijing.” Or there were, in 2005. Based on my observations last week, not any more. Katie would have to change the title to “There Were Nine Million Bicycles in Beijing, But Now There Seem To Be Just As Many Cars,” which sadly does not scan too well. I grew up with images of pedestrians braving battalions of bikes and streams of cycles in order to cross the road in Beijing. Now it's torrents of traffic. While other countries are embracing bike hire schemes and trying to tame the car, Beijing has gone in the opposite direction, and unleashed the car. Crossing the street is a risk to life and limb - signalled intersections have a countdown for pedestrians while the green man is lit up, but drivers seem to think that giving way to pedestrians is optional - they are likely to weave around you, often at speed, whilst you're crossing. Which is alarming. And the pollution caused by all these cars is something else. Meanwhile, in Brighton, hoping not to go down the Beijing road, the council is consulting on plans to introduce bike lanes onto the Old Shoreham Road. You can have your say via the consultation portal.

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