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'High-beam' policies please

Updated: 2013-12-18 08:17
( China Daily)

With the aim of reducing congestion and combating air pollution, China's northern city of Tianjin has become the latest to try and limit the number of cars on its roads. The city authorities announced on Sunday that from the following day motorists would have to obtain a license plate by either bidding in an auction or taking part in a lottery, and cars will be banned from the road for one day a week according to the last digit of their number plate starting March 1. The announcement led to a rush of people buying new vehicles in the city.

The restrictions might be considered an early decision, but more long-term strategies need to be considered, says a commentary in People's Daily.

The traffic pressure in Tianjin is already heavy - the city's population is 14 million and there are 2.4 million motor vehicles and 50,000 large trucks on the roads - and the authorities have to address traffic congestion in a more fundamental way.

The experiences of other big cities that have already adopted such measures, such as Beijing and Shanghai, show they are not a long-term solution. Fundamentally, city authorities need to try and realize sustainable development.

Just like a safe driving experience sometimes requires using a car's headlights on high beam to see as far as possible up the road ahead, a combination of diversified measures should be taken that shine a light along the development road as far ahead as possible.

Limiting the number of cars is not the aim, but rather a measure to realize the ultimate goal of safe, convenient and green transportation.

Curing urban diseases, such as air pollution and traffic congestion, is a tough test for administers and their managing abilities. In the long run, therefore, instead of controlling the number of vehicles, local governments should scientifically "control the city's capacity", which means developing public transport to offer other ways for residents to get about.

Management on high beam means looking ahead and anticipating potential problems.

(China Daily 12/18/2013 page8)