Mode of the past or promise for the future? cycling in China and the sustainability challenge, 1955 –present

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Abstract

Since the 1950s, cycling policy in China has gone through three phases: from active encouragement (1955–1994) and systematic discouragement (1994–2008) to neglect and ambivalence (since the 2010s). Parallel to the expansion of automobility, the country has been unique in its development of innovations in electric-powered two-wheelers and a vibrant e-cycling practice since the 1980s. Electric bikes have given over 300 million low-status commuters and peddlers access to jobs and housing, even though planners have dismissed them as a problematic ›floating population‹ and remnants of the past. Given China’s current urban sustainable mobility challenges and ambition to become the world’s first ›Ecological Civilization‹ (2013), China’s bicycle industry, e-vehicle manufacturers, and the e-commerce sector may offer an alternative to the US-based ›car civilization‹ if ecological (e-cycles) and social (low-status workers) sustainability are brought into one analytical frame.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-486
JournalZeithistorische Forschungen = Studies in Contemporary History
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

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