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Beijing Brings Back Olympics Car Rules to Cut Smog

While the medals and finish lines from the Olympics are becoming a distant memory — so was the hard-fought clean air that Beijing enjoyed during the Games. Residents have been discussing just how to keep the measures in effect, and now they might have won. A partial victory at least.

Traffic restrictions have been re-introduced to Beijing, hoping to bring back the easy-breathing peace and quieter of the Games. The new plan doesn't go as far as the original measures however — each car only has to spend one day a week off of the roads, as opposed to the every other day plan during the Olympics. The benefit is, "expected to reduce Beijing's average road traffic flow by 6.5 percent," according to one city official. During periods of heavy pollution, the restrictions can be returned to the more stringent every-other-day plan.

How many cars are we talking that will be affected by the plan? To find out,


Beijing has 3.4 million cars on the road, with 1,000 more added every day. So the return of the measures seems great — but residents are complaining that it's too complicated — for instance on Mondays, license plates ending in one or six can't come in to the city. Since the skies in August were the cleanest Beijing has seen in 10 years, should the stricter measures stay? Is this just the tip of the iceberg of sacrifices we'll have to make for the planet in the years to come?


Join The Conversation
pixelhaze pixelhaze 8 years
Other countries do this, and it's a pain but it's necessary. The way they do it where I'm from is that cars can't be on the road during rush hour on their specific days. So people leave early for work and then stay late, or they can carpool or use public transport. One side effect though is that some families will have two cars and make sure the license plates end in different numbers so they always have at least one car. The assigned "no drive" days rotate every year. There's even one day a year when there can be no cars on the road and everyone has to use public transportation. Of course that city is a "cab" city, like New York, where public transportation is readily accessible. But unlike New York most families also have at least one car, so streets are extremely congested. I think the law is aimed more at congestion than clean air, actually.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
We have to make sacrifices somewhere. I'm really surprised China went through with this, and I applaud the effort.
billyart101 billyart101 8 years
I'm all for environmental protection. However there are some things you can get away with in communist nations, that you just couldn't do here, and I'm not sure I'd want something like this in the States. It seems extreme. The problem is the stigma of public transportation, how it devoids someone of the status of being able to afford a vehicle. Also, frankly, whenever I've taken the bus I've had to deal with "crazies" who feel they have a need/right to comment on my life. It's hard to mind one's own business when you're in a public situation, which is in essence what public transportation is all about. I'm far too private and uncomfortable with strangers to make myself vulnerable on a weekly and especially every-other-daily basis.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that this is a step in the right direction if they are able to maintain it. i think that we saw a big change in the quality of air during the games, and if they are able to somehow maintain that now that everything is over and done with - then it's a step in the right direction. with the amount of traffic and cars on the road, you would have thought that they would be on the forefront of hybrid cars in China right? that way you would truly see an impact on the decrease of pollution.
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