The city of Yichang, China, best known as the site of the immense Three Gorges Dam, has broken ground on the construction of its first greenway. The 16-kilometer corridor, located in the city’s Xiaoting district, serves as an opportunity for Yichang’s construction commission to gain experience in greenway implementation in preparation for the expansion of the network in coming years. As part of a wave of Chinese cities building greenways, Yichang’s progress is emblematic of a regional shift in transportation priorities.
ITDP and its local partner, the Guangzhou Municipal Engineering Design Research Institute (GMEDRI), are leading the planning of Yichang’s greenway network. When complete, Yichang’s greenways will stretch hundreds of kilometers, connecting the city’s downtown, scenic areas, and all administrative districts. The new corridors will address the connectivity of various bike paths, parks, and roads that are currently disjointed and underused. City officials expect the first corridor to be complete by the end of the year.
A hallmark of Yichang’s transportation planning has been the successful integration of several sustainable transport systems. ITDP introduced the concept of greenways to Yichang’s government in 2012 as part of a planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. As a result, the BRT corridor itself will also serve as a greenway, for which ITDP and GMEDRI designed high-quality bike lanes, sidewalks and public spaces.
In addition, ITDP developed plans and designs for high-quality access for pedestrians and cyclists along the BRT/ greenway corridor. Along the Dongshong Avenue corridor, connecting the city center and newly developing districts in the south of Yichang, ITDP has designed greenways and road design improvements. By providing high-quality access, residents are more inclined to walk and cycle to the BRT. This improves the ridership and success of the BRT, as well as preventing the growth of car traffic and making Yichang a better place to walk and cycle.
Greenways are continuous corridors for walking and cycling, both for transportation and recreational purposes. They serve the growing need for urban dwellers to walk and cycle safely and conveniently and provide high-quality public spaces that are in high demand. Guangzhou, the first Chinese city opening greenways in 2010, has shown how successful greenways can be. Large numbers of people flock to Guangzhou’s greenways, land values around some greenways have increased more than 30% more than average growth, and the number of the city’s cyclists has increased along the corridors. Yichang is one of the approximately 70 Chinese cities following Guangzhou’s example of implementing greenways.
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