Resisting motorization in Guangzhou

Zacharias, John (2012) Resisting motorization in Guangzhou. Habitat International. 36 (1) pp. 93-100.

Private motorization has accompanied unprecedented urbanization in China, as a matter of public policy. Planning at the provincial and city levels has supported the rapid build-up of the private car fleet in major cities through the development of regional and urban highway networks, higher capacity local streets and much higher standards for car parking in new developments. By contrast, urban planning until 1994 concentrated on the building of community and the support for a non-motorized lifestyle. Guangzhou experienced particularly rapid city-building during this period because it was at the centre of the market reforms launched in 1978. The communities that were built form a broad ring around the historic core of the city, constituting one of the most significant obstacles to government ambitions to maintain the recent growth rates in car ownership. Guangyuan and Jiangnanxi are examples of such middle-class, home-owning communities where daily life remains almost exclusively non-motorized. Self-organized groups in the community are increasingly vocal and active in their demands to enhance local environmental quality and restrict local motorization. Local municipal authorities, although increasingly active and autonomous, try to strike a balance between government objectives and local demands. The application of motorization illustrates the growing gap between high-level policy and grassroots urban planning in Guangzhou.

Full text available at: Spectrum. Research repository of the Concordia university libraries

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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