June 24th, 2008
This episode, produced by Kunming Green Sisters Ouyang and Jenny, tells about “No Car Day”. What kind of effect does this once-a-month activity have on the city of Kunming? What do the local people think about it? Watch to find out.
September 22 was “No Car Day” around the world, but Kunming is the only Chinese city to have a “No Car Day” every month, held on the last Saturday from 9am to 5pm. The policy has its limitations, of course. Rather than fully banning cars throughout the entire city, only private cars are forbidden to enter the first ring road. Taxis, buses, bikes, scooters, and special purpose vehicles (or vehicles with greater than 17 seats that are more than 50% full) are allowed to travel anywhere in the city. Additionally, cars with odd plates can drive on odd months (even plates on even months) between the first and second ring roads. Any car can drive outside of the second ring.
The policy seems to have mixed results. On September 22, the Kunming Environmental Bureau reported much better air quality due to the limitation of private cars. “Carbon monoxide levels dropped 32.9 percent, nitrogen dioxide levels dropped 45.1 percent, ozone was down 39.5 percent, carbon dioxide was down 15.4 percent and airborne particulate matter was reduced by more than one-fifth.” (source) On the same day, the BBC reported Beijing drivers as having all but ignored the call for No Car Day, where the event was voluntary and not enforced as in Kunming. Having reported on April’s No Car Day, it was already the sixth monthly No Car Day. Most people that China’s Green Beat spoke with said that they had gotten used to the policy by now and adjusted their patterns by either taking public transport, not planning major shopping or events on those days, or borrowing their friends’ even-numbered plate car for the even-numbered month.