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Biking to work faces great challenges in Beijing

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BEIJING — In the early morning haze, Sun Jian peddled his bicycle along a bustling ring road in Beijing, dodging buses and cars as he weaved his way through multiple lines of traffic.         

北京——清晨薄雾缭绕,孙键在繁忙的北京二环路上骑着自行车,他躲避着公交车和汽车,在许多条车道的车流中穿梭。 

  

"There are too many cars in the city — it's like pouring a basin of water into a small bowl," Mr. Sun, 39, said as he cut through a line of cars into a bike lane.         

“北京车太多了就像一盆水倒进了碗里,”39岁的孙键说。他穿过一行汽车,插进了自行车道。 

        

On good days, Mr. Sun, a Beijing native and founder of a popular bike club, must cope with congestion and pollution on his way to work. On bad days, he faces car doors that unexpectedly open ahead of him and bitter fights with drivers parked in the bike lane.         

孙键是北京本地人,也是一个人气自行车俱乐部的创始人,运气好的时候,他在上班途中只需要忍受交通拥堵和污染。运气差的时候,他会遭遇突然打开的汽车门,还会和把车停在自行车道上的司机吵起来。 

        

Mr. Sun's 30-minute commute is emblematic of a battle brewing on roads across the country. As China has urbanized, families have become more prosperous and many city residents have moved to suburbs many miles from their jobs. The resulting growth in car use combined with lax law enforcement have undermined a half-century tradition of commuting on bikes.         

孙键上下班这30分钟的路程很有代表性,象征着中国各地道路上正在酝酿的一场战斗。随着中国城市化进程的推进,以及居民生活变得富裕,很多城市居民搬到了与工作地点相距甚远的郊区。由此带来的汽车使用量增加,再加上中国宽松的执法状况,破坏了半个世纪以来人们骑自行车上下班的传统。 

        

Nowhere is that battle more obvious than in Beijing, where buses, automobiles and electric scooters vie with cyclists for space. Today, only 12 percent of commuters in Beijing pedal to work, compared with 38 percent in 2000, according to government data.         

在北京,这场战役的可见度比其他地方都高。公交车、汽车和电动车都在与自行车争抢空间。政府数据显示,目前北京上下班的人中只有12%骑自行车,2000年这个比例为38%。 

        

But now, facing concerns about pollution, Beijing worries too many people have abandoned the bicycle, and it hopes to reverse course.         

但是现在由于担心环境污染,北京对太多的人放弃自行车感到不安,希望能够逆转这个趋势。 

        

China's capital, often choked by motorized vehicles, is eager to encourage more commuters to return to two wheels. It wants to increase the proportion of commuters who use bikes to 18 percent by 2020, according to city transportation officials.         

北京经常出现机动车辆堵塞的现象,因此热心鼓励更多人改骑自行车上下班。该市交通官员表示,希望到2020年,能让骑自行车上下班的人提升到18%的比例。 

        

The move is part of Beijing's pledge to promote "green commutes" as it combats air pollution and traffic congestion. Acrid smog routinely blankets city skyscrapers and at times becomes so bad that it leads to an increase in hospital admissions.         

这是北京承诺推动的”绿色出行”计划的组成部分,目的是改善空气污染和交通拥堵。刺鼻的雾霾经常笼罩着北京林立的高楼,有时会变得非常严重,导致就医人数增多。 

        

Bikes became an integral part of China's culture after the Communist revolution in 1949. Along with a sewing machine and a watch, a bicycle was once considered one of the three must-haves of every Chinese household.         

1949年中国共产主义革命之后,自行车成为了中国文化的一个组成部分。它曾经和缝纫机、手表一起被称为”三大件”,即每个中国家庭应有的三件必备之物。 

        

Only two decades ago, Beijing's streets were ringing with tinkling bells, and bike repair shops were kept busy. In fact, there were so many bikes that Beijing transportation officials reached out in 1994 to Dan Burden, then an American consultant with the United Nations, to solicit his opinion on how to manage them all given the new surge in private cars.         

就在二十年前,北京还是满街嘀铃铃的车铃声,自行车修理铺忙得不可开交。事实上,当时的自行车如此之多,以至于在1994年,北京的交通官员联系到当时给联合国担任顾问的美国人丹•伯登(Dan Burden),寻求他对如何在私家车激增的情况下管理自行车的意见。 

        

When told that the problem was too many bicycles, Mr. Burden offered the opposite view.         

在被告知问题在于自行车太多时,伯登提出了截然相反的看法。 

        

Mr. Burden told officials in 1994 that bikes were a "victim of unplanned car growth and should not be shoved out of the way," as they take up far less space than cars, he said in an email interview.         

伯登在接受电子邮件采访时说,自己当年告诉相关官员,自行车是”无规划的汽车增加的受害者,不应该把自行车赶走”,因为它们占的空间比汽车少。 

        

But Mr. Burden's advice was ignored.         

但伯登的建议被忽略了。 

        

"We believed the bicycle was the solution, but our message and solutions weren't fully heard," he said.         

“我们认为自行车是解决问题的办法,但我们的话和提出的方案,没有被完全听进去,”他说。 

        

In the decades since, China has claimed the title of world’s biggest automobile market.         

在自那之后的几十年里,中国成为了世界最大汽车市场。 

        

Persuading Beijing drivers to use their cars less is unlikely to be easy. To encourage more commuters to use bikes, city planners have proposed a ban on car parking on side roads less than 20 feet wide, more colored bike lanes and barricades to separate motor vehicles from nonmotorized ones.         

劝北京的司机少开车可能不那么容易。为了鼓励更多的上班族使用自行车,城市规划人员提议,禁止在不足20英尺(约合6米)宽的辅路上停车,并建议设立更多涂色的自行车道和分隔机动车与非机动车的护栏。 

But many cyclists here are skeptical that the changes will make Beijing's roads more hospitable anytime soon. 

但这里的很多骑车人都怀疑,这些改变无法很快就让北京的道路变得更适于骑车。 

        

"What I can't stand is that there are practically no bike lanes, and these are often occupied by cars," said Fang Yongbin, who moved to Beijing last summer. He said he tried biking to work but quit after a month because of a variety of frustrations, including the smog and aggressive motorists.         

“我无法忍受的是几乎没有自行车道,车道常常被汽车占了,”去年夏天来到北京的方永斌(音)说。他称自己试过骑车上班,但一个月后就放弃了,原因包括雾霾、机动车司机咄咄逼人,还有其他很多令其受挫的因素。 

        

Mr. Fang, who now drives to work, said that the measures being considered by officials gave him no assurance.        

现在开车上班的方永斌说,官员目前考虑的措施无法让他信服。 

        

A study released this year by researchers at Peking University in Beijing found that air pollution, safety concerns and a lack of road space were the main reasons people avoided biking to work in the capital.         

今年发表的一项研究发现,空气污染、安全问题和道路空间不足是首都民众避免骑自行车上班的主要原因。该研究是由北京大学的研究人员开展的。 

       

The sheer number of vehicles and the lack of parking spaces remain major issues, said Li Wei, an engineer at the Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning and Design, who is helping draft regulations intended to improve bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure in Beijing. The city has designed parking capacities that can accommodate only half of the five million cars in Beijing, he said.         

北京市城市规划设计研究院主任工程师李伟称,缺少停车位仍是主要问题。他正在参与起草意在改善北京的骑车和行人基础设施的规章。他说,北京市设计的停车能力只能容纳250万辆车。 

        

"Many cars are parked not in real parking spaces, but on the roads," Mr. Li said, adding that the city's transportation policies have long favored cars. "Beijing has really reached a limit."         

李伟说,“很多车没有停在真正用来停车的地方,而是停在了马路上。”李伟还说,长期以来,北京市的交通政策一直是对汽车有利的。“北京真的到达极限了。” 

        

Lax enforcement of traffic laws also contributes to the poor conditions for cyclists, Mr. Li said.         

李伟说,交通执法不严也是骑车人面临恶劣条件的原因之一。 

        

"Private cars in Beijing are the most capricious and free," he said. "Whenever there's a traffic jam, the cars drive onto the side lanes, which used to be the nonmotor vehicle lanes. There is no other country in the world where cars can drive wherever they want."         

“北京的私家车是最任性、最自由的,”他说。“不管什么时候,只要遇到堵车,机动车就会开到旁边的非机动车道上。世界上没有其他哪个国家的车,能想往哪儿开就往哪儿开。”

2016-06-23

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