Tuesday, June 08, 2010

People in China want cars

There was gloom over at SFStreetsblog, when a story was posted showing that growing prosperity in China means that people are giving up their bikes in favor of cars. This doesn't surprise me. When they can afford it, people want cars, not bikes. Which is why trying to turn San Francisco, a major American city, into Amsterdam is wrong-headed and likely to succeed only in screwing up our traffic if traffic lanes and street parking are eliminated on busy streets to make bike lanes.

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18 Comments:

At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're not China.

 
At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Oyeketto said...

Rob - this has been going on for years. It's a progression of evolution. Primitive countries gain wealth, pass through their materialism phase, grow beyond it.

China is in the materialism phase big time. Denmark and the Netherlands are somewhere past it.

Returning to bikes is part of a higher level of evolution - and no, I'm not trying to be snobby, it's true. The US is getting to that point, but isn't quite there, hence the tension and conflict that still goes on.

No question that China is going to go crazy for cars for the next couple of decades - unfortunately a lot of damage will be caused by this, but mark my words, in another generation, you'll see a green renaissance in that country and bikes will be a big part of it.

 
At 4:13 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

What bullshit. And what moral and intellectual vanity on your part.

 
At 4:45 AM, Anonymous Philip said...

As usual you only managed to present less than half the story.

Car dependency has been created in China by planners ceding space and priority to motor vehicles.

The article even noted the detrimental consequences to traffic flow.

Just a little more research I think would have revealed the Chinese angst over the mess that has been created in such a short time by autocentric policies.

 
At 6:48 AM, Blogger Lex said...

Further evidence that cycling is a religion masquerading as a means of transportation.

 
At 9:41 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You of course see the use of cars in an entirely negative light, as a matter of "angst" and traffic jams. But the point is that traffic is a problem of modernity and development, since China is now at a point where millions can afford cars. As in the US, having a car in China means working people can extend their job search to a wider area. 35,000 people drive into SF every weekday because the city is where the good jobs are, not because people love cars and like to commute. And obviously our mass transit system is maxed out and is incapable of doing what cars can do for these people.

 
At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I asked a Bike Coalition guy (who happens to be a architect who is tight with the progs and bikers) and asked what his opinion was regarding older people (over 40 years ...) who either do not want to get on a bike and choose not to ride MUNI. Also asked him what happens with an aging population in the City, we can't always depend on bikes or a failed public transit system this includes riders that threaten people. Much to my surprised he agreed that biking and MUNI should not be the only options. At least he offered a few centimeters of an open mind that cars are not the devil incarnated.

 
At 4:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob Anderson you are an ignorant, shallow minded man. Get with the times and open your eyes!

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Aren't you going to give us an example of your Deep Thinking that's so with-the-times? Let me guess: Bikes are Good and Cars are Bad.

"Much to my surprised he[bike guy] agreed that biking and MUNI should not be the only options. At least he offered a few centimeters of an open mind that cars are not the devil incarnated."

The bike nuts can afford to be magnanimous, since they have the steadfast support of City Hall as they pursue their agenda, which essentially is to screw up traffic for everyone---including Muni passengers---on behalf of a small minority of cyclists. It's as if Christian Scientists were in charge of the Public Health Dept.

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The future in China will include millions of cars, including in particular electric cars. That's where the economies of scale will really put electric cars over the top.

 
At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Oyeketto said...

Rob - vanity is not looking at the facts. I don't dispute the fact that China is going to go car-crazy, so will India for that matter. But it's 100% correct that as cultures pass their materialism phase, bikes, among other things, come back into style. Mark my words. It is absolutely one of many (albeit minor) manifestations of a higher consciousness.

Why does that bother you so much? Do you think I'm talking about those shitty little hipsters who run stop signs? Forget them. I'm talking about successful cities like Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and across Germany where people live generally much less materialistic lives. Biking just happens to be one teeny part of it, but since your tig-rig was about declaring a flasehood on bikes, I just thought I'd mention it.

Bring on the freeways! My only statement still stands as a fact - talk to me in 50 years and I guarantee there will be some Beijing blogger bitching about the rising bike culture in that city.

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Vanity is your assumption that you and your bike pals are more evolved than everyone else. Motor vehicles are here to stay, since people prefer them for a number of practical reasons. The big shift, already underway, will be to electric and hybrid engines. Bicycles will never be more than a very minor part of our transportation mix. Now it's mostly a fad adopted by the trendy, PC crowd.

 
At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Oyeketto said...

No man, it's not. I had a feeling you might freak out, so take a snapper and chill:

I'm not suggesting I'm more highly evolved AT ALL, nor am I suggesting that cars are going away. Where did you get the idea I suggest that? China, India and elsewhere are going car crazy - just the same thing as going crazy for junk food, McMansions and so on. I'm not putting a value judgment on it either - it's obvious as anything.

All I'm saying is that these things are a symptom of a culture that has been impoverished for a long time, and it's a phase that passes.

Many European countries, especially in the north, are moving beyond it. So will the USA, so will China eventually - but it will be a long time, and they will pave the shit out of that place in the meantime!

Bikes are just a tiny metaphor for the change. I can assure you, they are not a fad in northern europe, and they won't be a fad here for long.

This isn't some bullshit hipster talk, man, it's most definitely where things are going! Bikes are only a little piece of it....

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The more you refine and qualify your comment the more it seems like you aren't saying much of anything.

 
At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Oyeketto said...

What I'm saying is that using China's current swing toward cars as a reason to make fun of the current rise of bike popularity in the US is not a valid argument... it's two countries in two phases which have a lot of similarities historically speaking

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Any excuse to make fun of the great, planet-saving bike movement is good enough for me.

 
At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and thats your final comment on this. You truly are pathetic

 
At 7:16 PM, Blogger SportsGuy said...

"Primitive countries gain wealth, pass through their materialism phase, grow beyond it."

I do partly agree with this. China under Mao certainly was stuck in the primordial ooze of poverty. Can you really begrudge the Chinese a bit of materialism?

 

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