Car-Free Day cuts traffic by 60 percent

SATURDAY'S Car-Free Day in Shanghai saw car traffic decrease by nearly 60 percent in the core of Lujiazui, Pudong's commercial center where all cars were banned, while buses were considerably busier than usual, said local transport authorities.

Published September 23, 2007 by Shanghai Daily
By Dong Zhen 

SATURDAY'S Car-Free Day in Shanghai saw car traffic decrease by nearly 60 percent in the core of Lujiazui, Pudong's commercial center where all cars were banned, while buses were considerably busier than usual, said local transport authorities.

The international day also saw cars banned from part of Nanjing and Huaihai roads, the city's busiest shopping and commercial zones.

Shanghai transport authorities said they will collect and analyze data of vehicle flow, passenger flow volume and environmental monitoring for a thorough assessment. And they will set aside each September 22 as a Car-Free Day.

Some parking garage officials at office buildings along Huaihai Road and Nanjing Road said there was an obvious decrease in vehicles parked in the garages on Saturday.

"On usual Saturdays, the garages are almost full before early afternoon," said a keeper with the underground parking garage in Plaza 66, a landmark commercial mall on Nanjing Road W.

There were still more than 200 places available in the parking garage early on Saturday afternoon.

Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng walked to Wukang Road to ride the No. 911 bus to attend a meeting held in a hotel in Hongqiao early on Saturday, while other local government officials also responded to the campaign by riding Metros, buses or sharing mini-buses on official business.

Road junctions in central Lujiazui had signs set up informing drivers of the one-day restrictions.

Bus routes passing the restricted areas received about 20 percent more passengers than usual.

Yesterday, transport bureau director Li Wenhui said one of the aims of Car-Free Day was to encourage residents to take public transport more often.

"Public transport is expected to account for a third of the total transport among local residents by 2010, a rise from the current 26 percent," said Li. "The figure in Tokyo is 60 to 70 percent, and reaches 80 to 90 percent in Hong Kong."

Saturday's rain didn't stop 400 local volunteers who marched from Xiangyang Park to Yandang Road, along Huaihai Road, wearing T-shirts and using umbrellas with logos to promote walking as a healthy way to commute.

Yesterday's air quality was rated Grade I, excellent, although it is too early to tell what long-term benefits the campaign will bring to the environment.

Three environment-monitoring cars have been measuring the air quality in the three car-free areas from September 14 to get enough data for comparison. Results won't be made available for a few days.

But meteorologists pointed out that air quality is related either to traffic or weather conditions. According to records in the past six years, air quality is either excellent or good on September 22.