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Traffic at scenic spot to be cut all year

Updated: 2014-12-16 07:40
By Yan Yiqi (China Daily)

Vehicle restrictions are to operate all year round at the West Lake scenic area in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, to improve the environment.

The city government announced on Saturday that traffic controls will be in force throughout the year from Jan 1, 2015. Currently, the restrictions apply only during the peak tourist seasons in spring and autumn.

An odd-and-even license plate rule will be applied during weekends and on national holidays. Vehicles that fail to meet emission standards will be banned from the area, and drivers who break the rule will be fined 100 yuan ($16).

"Vehicle emissions are the main pollutants in the scenic area," said Lyu Xiongwei, deputy director of the area's administration commission. "To improve the environment of the West Lake and protect the cultural heritage of the area, traffic controls are a must."

Lyu said drivers are being urged to switch off their engines when they have to wait for more than three minutes.

"Emissions reach a peak when vehicles are moving at low speed or are stationary with the engine on. We hope that drivers can join us so we can protect the West Lake together," he said.

In a survey conducted by the commission in November, 78.76 percent of the 226 people questioned supported the extended traffic control measures. More than 80 percent said they are willing to travel around the West Lake area by public transport.

Xu Huizhen, a teacher at Hangzhou Chaohui Middle School, said she welcomes the measures.

"West Lake is Hangzhou's landmark and we should protect it by all means," she said. "No one would like to hear tourists complaining about the terrible environment."

However, Xu is concerned about the standard of public transport in the area.

"I used to wait for more than 40 minutes for a bus," she added. "If this problem cannot be solved, there will be questions over the measures."

Weng Jun, deputy manger of Hangzhou public transport group, said public transport in the area will be upgraded to provide low-carbon services for tourists.

"The buses around the area will be electric ones and will run with greater frequency," he said. "We will increase the number of public bicycles, and also open water bus lines. Tourists will not suffer inconvenience because of the vehicle restrictions."

What they say

"The vehicle restrictions are inconvenient for residents. Few bus routes pass my home, and the frequency is usually 30 minutes. Many of my neighbors have two cars to cope with the rules."

YANG GUIQUAN, 63, who lives in the West Lake scenic area

"I think it's a good idea to limit vehicles in the area, because the air quality there is much better than it is downtown. It would be even better if private cars were not allowed into the area at all."

YE ZIYA, 32, tourist from Yiwu, Zhejiang province

"I support the aims of the measures, but I doubt that public transportation can meet the demand from tourists in the West Lake area. Finding a taxi in the area is the hardest thing I have experienced in the city, and buses are always crowded."

WEI WEI, 35, Hangzhou resident

"I am not worried that the vehicle restrictions will inconvenience tourists. Public bicycles have become increasingly popular in the West Lake area in recent years. For residents living in the area, I suggest the government runs shuttle buses."

WEN HAIYAN, 49, researcher at Zhejiang Academy of Social Sciences

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