Social, Cultural, Economic and Political Impacts on Travel Behavior and Demand in China
China is the world¨s most populous country
and faces rapid land-use change and dramatic
urbanization. Because of the rapid increase of private car ownership and decrease of public
transit ridership in most cities of the rapidly urbanizing country, the local governments are
looking for a method to transfer urban traffic mode from vehicle-based mode to human-based
mode and to alleviate traffic congestion in city core.
Along with the economy booming, the ownership of private car rapid increases and ridership of
public transit decreases in most cities of China, the city governments insist in the belief that
controlling ownership of vehicles in city core and encouraging usage of public transit can
effectively lessen the traffic congested. For example, a policy of vehicle plate license auction
started in 1994 in Shanghai, implementation of BRT lines in Beijing and Hangzhou, and
enforcing a rule that allows only vehicles with even-numbered license plates on the streets on
alternating days with odd-numbered vehicles in Beijing and Wuhan.
In addition, China is a special case in terms of land use and city structures, strong downtown
business influences creating a signal city core, where residential facilities are formally more
mixed. Rapid internal immigration of floating population from suburban results to unpredictable
travel behavior and traffic demands.
The majority of trip makers in some secondary cities currently are transit users, the attention to
the management and planning of public transit is a key element. However, rising income and
development of transportation facilities will inevitably result to dependency on convenient and
comfortable private auto. Especially, those policies of traffic demand management in major cities
of China seems not effective and reasonable strategies in a long term. There should be standard
and advice for balanced development of personal and public transportation in China.
The purpose of the propose research is to identify the social, cultural, economic and political
impacts on urban travel behavior, to understand how is mode choice related to demographic and
socio-economic characteristics and what are the mode choice compositions for work and non-
work trips. In short, the research presented here attempts to answer the following key questions:
What are the key factors in changing Chinese transport patterns? Will the traditional
high-density and mixed land-use planning be effective enough to prevent severe negative
impacts of motorization?
What is the current situation in Chinese major and secondary cities compared
internationally to a large sample of other cities, e.g., western developed cities in U.S.,
high-income Asian cities, and low-income developing cities?
Is it possible for Chinese cities to accommodate the high automobile ownership
comparable to those of developed cities in U.S., if yes, how many roads need to be
widened and constructed? How much land would be consumed by transport infrastructure
and urban sprawl? Is it economically efficient and feasible? What effect would have on
the world to satisfy China¨s vast quantity of oil demand? if not, what¨s the solution to
approach the balanced development of personal and public transportation?
What effect will motorization have on inequities of mobility and accessibility among
various segments of the population in Chinese cities?
More details and proposed solutions for the issue are discussed in one of my papers published on China City Planning Review.
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