All along Yichang, China’s new BRT corridor, urban life is improving. New cycle lanes are creating safe, protected space for bikers and laying the groundwork for the city’s planned public bike share system. Upgrades to the pedestrian environment include expanded sidewalks, safer crosswalks, a new public plazas. In addition, in recent months Yichang has started implementing a major parking reform program, making public space safer and more accessible.
Of the almost 1,000 parking spaces along Dongshan Avenue before the BRT arrived, nearly half have been eliminated. The remain parking is better managed to eliminate or minimize conflicts with pedestrians and cyclists. These measures reflect the vision that public space should promote social interaction and inclusion for city residents. The majority of the remaining spaces are now setback parking, defined as parking space on private property between the public walkway and the building frontage. Previously, many vehicles would park on the walkway illegally, but with redesigned sidewalks and stronger enforcement, parking has been successfully limited to designated off-street spaces.
Setback and on-street parking reforms are critical to the achievement of other station area improvements. Improvements to walkways, bike lanes or plazas are useless to pedestrians and cyclists if the space is later simply occupied by parked cars. The impressive on-street parking reform measures achieved along the BRT corridor in Yichang are in large part due to the strong support and guidance of the Vice Mayor who is in charge of enforcement by the traffic police and has played a key role in ensuring the BRT system is viewed as an ‘urban development corridor’. This perspective allows the benefits of the system to grow beyond the buses, improving public space and transit options for more city residents.
This comprehensive approach has been supported and encouraged by ITDP for the last two years, with support from the Grantham Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Oak Foundation. Phase 1 of the BRT system opened in July 2015, with phase 2 to Yiling District in the north opening in October. On-street parking reform will also be a key part of the BRT corridor implementation in Yiling District.
At left, top: Pedestrian space near the Shanzhuang Lu BRT station is clean and accessible. Below, in 2014, parked vehicles often obstructed the path, creating unsafe and unattractive space for pedestrians.
Additional photos and news about Yichang is available on the ITDP China website