China’s first Aerial Cycleway opens to bikers

Here’s their problem in a nutshell. They were asking themselves the wrong question.

What you see here is the results of decision makers and engineers’ response to the question (roughly):
“How can we give more safe space to bicycles and pedestrians in the city at this busy intersection, without slowing down and in due course reducing car traffic”.
And this is what they get. THEIR solution to THEIR problem.
But hold on a sec. If sustainability is their game (which it should be) then the right question ask would be closer to this:
“How can we at the same time (a) use bicycles and foot traffic (i.e., healthy, sustainable, active, cheap, zero-carbon, zero greenhouse gasses, democratic transport par excellence) to slow down and reduce (b) the ever-increasing number of dangerous, polluting, wasteful, space-hungry, costly, ) cars surging into our city day after day after day”.
Now that’s an interesting question. I leave it to you to decide how you think this important strategic objective can be best achieved. Your critical comments are warmly welcome.
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It never ceases to amaze me how intelligent, serious, in many ways competent people can fall into this trap: that of rushing off into what they take as answers, before they have looked carefully at the full range of questions that need to be asked.  This very bad habit leads into a mindset and operational and investment pattern of which can be disastrous for a city.
china-beijing-heavy-traffic-on-ring-road.jpg (624×458)
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About the author:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at and @ericbritton

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