By Zhong Ziwei, People’s Daily
A 7.6-kilometer-long elevated bicycle path in Xiamen, east China’s Fujian province, has brought great convenience to commuters while witnessing the city’s endeavors to promote green and low-carbon means of transport.
Lai Tingsi, a citizen in Huli district of Xiamen, is one of the commuters who have benefited a lot from the bikeway. The bikeway is also China’s first bicycle path built in the air and the longest elevated bike lane in the world.
Lai lives three kilometers away from where she works. Although the commute to work may not be long, it still distressed her.
“It takes too long to walk to work, and if I drove, it might take me more than half an hour as there are often traffic jams during the morning and evening rush hours. Besides, I would have to pay a considerable amount of parking fees if I parked my car near my office building,” Lai said.
Most of the time she commuted by bus, but buses are always packed during the rush hours, and it can be difficult to judge when a bus would come, according to Lai.
Fortunately, Lai found a new choice for commuting last year, thanks to the city’s innovative bike lane built in the air. Since she can cycle on the special lane for 2.7 kilometers of her commute distance, her commuting time has been shortened to less than 20 minutes.
“At first I just wanted to give it a try. I didn’t expect it to be so convenient and fast,” recalled Lai, who explained that there is no traffic light or motor vehicle on the dedicated lane.
The elevated bicycle path has adopted steel box girder structure and is mainly built on either side of the city’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, hanging around the middle section of the BRT lanes, according to Xiao Zhibiao, technical director of a municipal development company under Xiamen Municipal Construction Group.
The gate machines at the entrances of the bicycle path are equipped with a multi-sensor surveillance system. It can quickly identify bicycles, electric scooters, and motorbikes when they pass, thus ensuring bikes can pass through the entrances and run on the dedicated lane smoothly.
There are a total of 11 entries on the elevated bicycle lane, which help connect the path with not only the city’s BRT lanes, but also 11 regular bus stations and two subway stations.
Lai said she has gained a lot from cycling over the past more than one year. At first she merely rode a bike for the convenience of commuting, but she soon found that it is also a good form of exercise, Lai pointed out.
Lai becomes increasingly interested in cycling, she said, who added that besides commuting by bike, now she also enjoys touring around the city by bike in her spare time.
In recent years, Xiamen has made great efforts to improve its bike lane network. Taking into consideration key factors concerning Xiamen’s transport system, such as the natural environment of the coastal city, as well as its popular transportation means and layout of road network, the city has created a unique system of bicycle paths, Xiao noted.
“By building bicycle lanes, Xiamen aims to meet people’s needs for green and low-carbon transport,” Xiao said, adding that the city’s green and slow traffic system including bicycle lanes has witnessed constant improvement since it was created.
It’s believed that relevant authorities and government departments will provide citizens with greater transport resources and create better conditions for green and low-carbon transport through concept and technological innovation, Xiao stressed.