Chinese Language Blog

Green China pt. 8: Transportation (交通工具) Posted by on Nov 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

China boasts some of the most creative, diverse and downright ridiculous forms of transportation or 交通工具 (jiāotōng gōngjù) that I have ever seen. While I love crashing in hard sleeper trains, getting lightheaded in the back of tuolaji three wheelers (拖拉机), and taking cheap crosstown taxi rides, I am aware of the large amounts of pollution spewing from the engines and tailpipes. Lets face it, China is too populated of a country for everyone to burn gasoline and coal like the US.

Even amidst congested and overcrowded metropolises, the emergence of the private automobile is proving incredibly detrimental to clean development (not to mention clean air). As China modernizes, the number of private autos added to the road each year will increase at an exponential rate until there are too many cars and not enough lane space to hold them. Further, the huge congestion problems created by  high concentrations of automobiles turns toxic when stagnating, choking out locals and adding to health problems. It’s not surprising then that China is turning alternatives to smog emitting vehicles–some of which are common place in the rest of the world–others are entirely out there (but still ingenious).

Electric Vehicles:

China is already staking out its claim in electric vehicles (EV) and looks to implement fleets of electric buses or () while providing subsidies for private electric car or 电动汽车 (diàn dòng qì chē) ownership.

Green Bikes/Rent a Bike (租用自行车):

Chinese officials and policy makers have been actively promoting “Green Bicycle” or “Communal Biking” programs in cities like Hangzhou and Chongqing, where public bikes can be rented for a few dollars. All that’s required is a refndable 100 renminbi deposit,存款 (cúnkuǎn), to gain an access card, and then a few renminbi per hour after that. The best part is that you can drop you bike off at a plethora of locations scattered across the city with just the swipe of a card. If you visit a city with public bikes, I highly suggest it for seeing the sights and sounds.

In highly dense urban populations, the Rent-a-Bikes work to help alleviate traffic when the subways are jammed, the streets are clogged and bus are at a standstill. While a majority of Chinese people own bikes, it helps supplement a portion of the population that can afford cabs, but choose to bike for convenience, health or for environmental concerns. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat in a cab and watched bicyclists fly by.

“Future Alternatives”:

Straddling Bus (I kid you not):

A train that never stops (saves a lot of theory):

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About the Author: Stephen

Writer and blogger for all things China related. Follow me on twitter: @seeitbelieveit -- My Background: Fluent Mandarin speaker with 3+ years working, living, studying and teaching throughout the mainland. Student of Kung Fu and avid photographer and documentarian.


  1. Peter Simon:

    Some brilliant ideas! Only one thing: the solutions must include ways to avoid, through the use of electricity generated elsewhere, the exportation of pollution to rural areas. China is densely populated enough for this to make them suffer consequences. So it all boils down to the energy structure. If coal doesn’t decline as the major source of electricity, not much is achieved. But that’s a world-wide problem … see for data:

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