Breathing Huangzhou

June 4, 2013

The city of Huangzhou in Zhejiang province is about a hundred miles or 161 kilometers from Shanghai. We’ve visited several times. Our last trip together was in 2008 shortly before the project this story covers was launched. Huangzhou is one of the most beautiful cities in China.

In the video, Al Jazerra’s Melissa Chan reports on one of the largest bike sharing projects in the world and one of the most successful.

Launched in 2008, the city of Huangzhou provides 50,000 free bicycles at 2,000 bike stops across the city, and in July 2012 a paper was published on the Clean Air Action Planning in Chinese Cities: Hangzhou and Jinan Cases.

The people Chan interviewed say they use the bikes to go to work and it is great to be outside and exercising. One woman says it cuts her commute time.

Melissa Chan says the first hour of bike use is free. It’s actually possible to cycle free all day as long as you check in at a stop every hour.

The system is easy to use—just swipe a bike card across a reader (similar to riding many urban rapid transit systems) and off you go.

Registering for a card is simple.  All that’s needed is a deposit and identification.

Huangzhou, also known as the Westlake, has been one of the more environmentally conscious cities in China.

The government made space to build parks alongside the rapid development and modernization. Huangzhou has remained picturesque unlike many other cities in China where the concrete jungle has taken over.

Li Zhi Hong of Hangzhou Public Transport says the city wanted to encourage citizens to leave their cars and use more public transportation. The bicycles allowed people to take that final kilometer from the bus station to their destination.

The bikes are also great for tourism.

Melissa Chan says public busses have also adopted European emission standards. While there are still many cars on the road, people tell her that it could be a lot worse.

The city has taken the pollution issue seriously and Huangzhou’s success has attracted the attention of Beijing where the pollution problem is still “painfully” visible with each breath.

Today, Huangzhou is one of the cleanest cities in the country.  In fact, recently it was one of seven cities in China to limit the number of vehicles driving on roads using travel restrictions based on vehicle license plate numbers.” Source: Hangzhou (2013 update)

In addition, Huangzhou’s air is rated cleaner than seventeen of China’s Provincial Capitals including Xi’an, China’s ancient capital, and Beijing, its modern capital. Source: What’s On


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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About iLook China

GM Volt in China Soon

October 31, 2010

Bertel Schmitt writes in The Truth about Cars that GM will introduce the battery powered VOLT in China in the second half of 2011.

According to the Schmitt, GM has already conceded the Volt will be a failure in China because Chinese consumers are buying mostly gasoline and diesel powered cars and trucks.

There is one advantage China has over America and most of the world. The centeral government may decide to require taxis then the rest of China’s car owners to buy electric or hybrid and set a deadline.

Imagine how that would succeed in the US. In fact, China is doing something the US is having trouble getting started.

China is building wind farms off its coasts and replacing out-of-date coal burning power plants with modern, cleaner coal powered generating plants.

In fact, China has a long way to go to clean up its environment but it is moving in that direction.

Meanwhile, in the US, the top ten selling cars for 2010 are all gasoline powered as they are in China. Source: Good Car Bad Car

Even with polluted air, gasoline power remains king. I drive a hybrid and walk whenever possible. However, many people who live in the same town drive huge, gas guzzling SUVs.

Statistics tell us that the Chinese middle-class consumer isn’t that different from similar people in the US.

Learn more from Cornering the Plug-In Hybrid all Electric Car


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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