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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 02-02-07, 07:17 PM   #1
Slow Train
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Cars conquering the Bicycle Kingdom

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Cars conquering the Bicycle Kingdom
GEOFFREY YORK
BEIJING -- Every time Ms. Wu ventures by bicycle to her local supermarket, she takes her life into her hands.

In the capital of the self-proclaimed Bicycle Kingdom, there are no bike lanes on her road. Taxis and buses clog the pavement. Car doors are flung open without warning. Parked cars block her path, forcing her into narrower spaces.

"I'm lucky that I've never had an accident," says Ms. Wu, a 35-year-old teacher who declined to give her first name. "Every time I go to the supermarket, it's a risky experience. The bicycle routes are squeezed more and more by cars. I have to go very slow to stay safe."

Cars conquering the Bicycle Kingdom
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Old 02-02-07, 08:27 PM   #2
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Cars conquering the Bicycle Kingdom
It will take a lot of oil to run all those Chinese cars. I wonder, will there be enough oil to go around? If not, who will get it and who will do without?
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Old 02-02-07, 09:18 PM   #3
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Eventually, she'll have to take the bus like many bike commuters including me. I don't commute by bicycle because it's easier and safer to take the lightrail.

This woman is the last generation of bicycle commuters in China. The next generation will either be driving or riding the bus everywhere.
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Old 02-02-07, 09:29 PM   #4
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I lived in China a few years ago and was astonished at traffic in China. China is obviously a huge country with a diverse amount of growth throughout the country so what is written about Beijing, Shanghai, or Shenzen may not be true of Harbin, Hohhot, or Kashi. That being said, from my experience in China what really stood out was the diverse range of vehicles on the road. Donkey carts, bicycles, tractors, pedestrians, cars, semi-trucks all shared the same road. It shows the gap widening between rich and poor and what the wealthy in China see as success. The students I taught in China all asked me what kind of car I owned in Canada, and when I told them I did not have one they all looked at me with dissapointment.

I love China but see it as a disaster waiting to happen. The clash between old and new is huge and in my opinion can not be susstained much longer. I do not think the car is King yet but soon will be, unfortunately.
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Old 02-02-07, 11:04 PM   #5
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Not only that, but the environmental devastation it is bringing as well for manufacturing all those cars.

Factory Pollution
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Old 02-03-07, 10:11 AM   #6
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Visiting Western leaders are alway impressed by the decreasing number of bicycles, seeing it as an example of rising affluence.
This just proves the true stupidity of Western leaders.
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Old 02-03-07, 11:34 AM   #7
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It will take a lot of oil to run all those Chinese cars. I wonder, will there be enough oil to go around? If not, who will get it and who will do without?
The oil will go to the people willing to pay the most. That will include a lot of people in North America and Europe as well as quite a few in India and China.
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Old 02-05-07, 02:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Platy
It will take a lot of oil to run all those Chinese cars. I wonder, will there be enough oil to go around? If not, who will get it and who will do without?
Just a guess, but I would say that when it comes to procuring oil, those who are willing to negotiate with producer nations (the Chinese) will have more success than those who can only invade the producers (the US and UK).
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Old 02-05-07, 06:52 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by oneredstar
I lived in China a few years ago and was astonished at traffic in China. China is obviously a huge country with a diverse amount of growth throughout the country so what is written about Beijing, Shanghai, or Shenzen may not be true of Harbin, Hohhot, or Kashi.
I've read that many parts of Western and Northern China suffer from terrible droughts year after year.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/5261918.stm
Sounds like before they reach Western levels of car traffic, they may have other fish to fry particularly on the eonvironmental front.
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Old 02-06-07, 10:06 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
This woman is the last generation of bicycle commuters in China. The next generation will either be driving or riding the bus everywhere.
But the generation after that will likely be back on the bikes.
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Old 02-06-07, 10:09 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Roody
Just a guess, but I would say that when it comes to procuring oil, those who are willing to negotiate with producer nations (the Chinese) will have more success than those who can only invade the producers (the US and UK).
I definitely agree with you there. A monstrous national debt, a broken economy, and nothing to offer to the rest of the world but threats will likely leave the US powerless.
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Old 02-06-07, 12:22 PM   #12
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I definitely agree with you there. A monstrous national debt, a broken economy, and nothing to offer to the rest of the world but threats will likely leave the US powerless.
The US used to be a beacon to the less developed nations. They wanted to be more like us. Now they want to be more like China.
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Old 02-06-07, 12:34 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Roody
The US used to be a beacon to the less developed nations. They wanted to be more like us. Now they want to be more like China.
it's true. china also needs raw materials to feed it's expanding industry. so, they make business deals with nations that are poor but rich in natural resources. from an economic standpoint, china is fueling a lot of growth around the world. add to the fact that they are less inclined to dabble in other nations internal politics sweetens the deal.

the US simply isn't as relevant as it used to be. the global economy is becoming less and less US focused.
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Old 02-06-07, 12:47 PM   #14
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It would be more accurate to say that the globe is becoming more and more like the U.S., so the U.S. stands out less. The endless struggle between nations to out-do each other will be moot when the planet is a wasteland. The cars are only one aspect of the problem. Beijing's air is so bad at times it's almost impossible to breath. It will be interesting to see if they manage to clean it up for the Olympics.
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Old 02-06-07, 12:58 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Cosmoline
It would be more accurate to say that the globe is becoming more and more like the U.S., so the U.S. stands out less. The endless struggle between nations to out-do each other will be moot when the planet is a wasteland. The cars are only one aspect of the problem. Beijing's air is so bad at times it's almost impossible to breath. It will be interesting to see if they manage to clean it up for the Olympics.
Funny that to some extent the fate of the world depends on a hokey sporting event!
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Old 02-06-07, 01:28 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Roody
The US used to be a beacon to the less developed nations. They wanted to be more like us. Now they want to be more like China.
A few weeks ago I met an old doctor from Hanoi. I asked him if he had noticed a shift from bikes and an increase in obeisity in his country. He said that what was more alarming than just the increased heft was that on his last visit he had seen some statistics showing an increasing incidence of adult onset diabetes and one other fat related disease. I forgot what the second one was. He metioned that it was a city problem and the countryside was still poor. He also said that with a socialist government, the theory is that they can solve these problems more easily than in a capitalist government. Then he left me with the remark "We'll see if they can perform or not." I would like to have had a longer conversation with him.
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Old 02-07-07, 09:50 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by JeffS
But the generation after that will likely be back on the bikes.
Good one.

I didn't think about this one but you could be right. It's possible that our great grand children will be transportation cyclists like many forum members today. But if the bus/train becomes unaffordable, then we're all in trouble!
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Old 02-07-07, 09:56 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by timmhaan
it's true. china also needs raw materials to feed it's expanding industry. so, they make business deals with nations that are poor but rich in natural resources. from an economic standpoint, china is fueling a lot of growth around the world. add to the fact that they are less inclined to dabble in other nations internal politics sweetens the deal.
China is already involved in other nations internal politics. How do you think Iran received the knowledge regarding nuclear power? China is selling weapons to Iraq and when we told them they could not buy those oil well in South America, they stated their nation was a "Threat" and should be taken seriously! Make no doubt about it, they will become more involved with the middle east as control of the remaining oil supplies begins to dwindle.
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Old 02-08-07, 09:47 AM   #19
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China is already involved in other nations internal politics. How do you think Iran received the knowledge regarding nuclear power? China is selling weapons to Iraq and when we told them they could not buy those oil well in South America, they stated their nation was a "Threat" and should be taken seriously! Make no doubt about it, they will become more involved with the middle east as control of the remaining oil supplies begins to dwindle.
yes and no. china has a historical record of detesting other nations interferring in their politics. and they tend to react (as you cited above) strongly when pressure is on them. with a few notable exceptions they play a weaker role in trying to govern over other nations decision making. but, as a permanent member of the UN, these lines can often be blurred. anyway, it will be interesting to see what develops in the middle east.
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Old 02-08-07, 02:59 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
China is already involved in other nations internal politics. How do you think Iran received the knowledge regarding nuclear power? China is selling weapons to Iraq and when we told them they could not buy those oil well in South America, they stated their nation was a "Threat" and should be taken seriously! Make no doubt about it, they will become more involved with the middle east as control of the remaining oil supplies begins to dwindle.
True, but let's also remember that the US props up Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and we also funded Saddam against Iran, the Taliban against the USSR, and in Iran we sponsored the coup that put the old shah in power.

For thousands of years, China has chosen to be relatively uninvolved in the rest of the world. (I know there have been many exceptions, but generally this has been true.) This tradition may be changing, as the world is currently a very different place, and it's more difficult for any nation to remain isolated.
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Old 02-09-07, 01:20 PM   #21
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How do you think Iran received the knowledge regarding nuclear power?
Before our Shah was thrown out of Iran there were Iranians studying nuclear engineering in the US. My office was near the training reactor on campus and some friends of mine worked there. When our Shah left Iran, my friends told me the US Department of Defense representatives came around asking questions about the Iranians. I knew some Iranians who were being sheltered by the engineering school by accepting them into PhD programs when they originally had no intention of going for their PhD. The students didn't want to return to the chaos in their homeland. Do you have information that none of the Iranians studying nuclear engineering returned? Some who I met said they hated the Shah partly because of the way the US destroyed their democracy to place him in power.
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Old 02-13-07, 04:19 PM   #22
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just wait till China becomes the dominat planetary consumer with their population think America has a bad green footprint will be positively quaint by comparison.
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Old 02-14-07, 02:07 PM   #23
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Sociologists and policy makers have long talked about developing countries "skipping a generation" when it comes to technology. For example, some countries skipped the development of large scale land telephones for consumers, and went straight to cell phones. Maybe China will do somehing similar with private automobiles--just skip them entirely and go to the next generation of sustainable transportation. At least I hope they do!
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