New Beijing Traffic Laws Take 800,000 Cars Off the Road in China

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Around 800,000 fewer cars were on the road in Beijing, China this Monday, following the introduction of radical new traffic laws aimed at reducing pollution in the city.

The new laws came into force today, and stipulate that 70% of government vehicles, as well as all private and corporate cars, take turns off the roads on one out of five weekdays.

The law works by banning cars with number plates ending one or six from the city’s roads on Mondays, and those with plates ending with two or seven on Tuesdays, three or eight on Wednesdays, four or nine Thursdays and five or zero Fridays. The ban does not apply on weekends.

The law follows a trial two-month ban on vehicles on alternate days for the duration of the recent olympics and paralympics. According to officials, the measure led to a 120,000 tonne reduction in vehicle pollution. However, pollution levels returned to normal when the ban was lifted.

The success of the trial led Beijing officials to canvas the opinions of residents, asking their views on permanent measures. Nearly half of residents supported the ban, while the others, mostly motorists, perhaps unsurprsingly opposed it.

If the laws prove successful over the long-term, it could spur other administrations in cities across China to take action as well.

Image Credit – poeloq via flickr.com on a Creative Commons license

 

Andrew Williams

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.