International Development Planning Review

The search for sustainable transport in a developing city: The case of Tianjin

International Development Planning Review (2003), 25, (3), 283–299.

Abstract

With one of the fastest growing economies in the world, China is also experiencing rapid motorisation. While the car industry and the car market are being promoted as spurs to growth, car infrastructure is lagging far behind, with consequent serious problems for traffic management in all large cities. Tianjin represents a significant exception, with a high level of non-motorised traffic, very few dedicated motor vehicle roads and widespread sharing of all other roads by both motorised and non-motorised vehicles. Historical development, urban geography and a variety of city policies explain why Tianjin remains distinct. The operations of this transport system have important effects on the distribution of land uses, the character of streets and patterns of urban life. This article explores how this mixed transportation system works, in particular by examining the potential conflict points between the modes. While relatively high volumes of traffic are accommodated, there is a very low conflict rate. It is argued that there is much to be learned from the Tianjin case for confronting the impending crisis in urban transport in Chinese cities.

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Zacharias, John