Pedestrian-oriented streets not only are safer, improve air quality, and encourage physical activity, but also facilitate commercial and social activity. Although China has rapidly urbanized in the past few decades, many cities across the country are still not easily walkable.
According to the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment, 82 percent of Chinese residents indicated that they are not satisfied with the walkability of their city. With increasingly large cities, China's urban population has experienced a decrease in quality of health, caused in part by heavy air pollution and sinking levels of physical activity.
Given the growing concerns about public health as well as the benefits of pedestrianization, creating vibrant, walkable streets is becoming an urgent priority in Chinese cities.
On the national stage, China has designed and put forward its national urbanization plan which encourages pedestrianization. On the local level, cities are exploring a variety of strategies for pedestrianizing their streets and open spaces to benefit urban development. Moving forward, it is critical that China both prioritizes its pedestrian population and monitors the results of these changes.
By Wei Li. Published by TheCityFix on 10 July 2015.