Beijing enacts four-day ban on vehicles, pushes public transportation

Today marks the start of an experimental four-day vehicle ban in Beijing, China. While the motivation for the scheme is finding ways to clear the air for next year’s Olympics, its execution is a lovely reminder that change is possible. Home to 16 million people, Beijing has about 3 million registered vehicles; today and Sunday, license plates ending in even numbers must stay parked, with odd-numbered plates banned on Saturday and Monday. The experiment will see 1.3 million fewer cars on the city’s busy streets, and officials hope for some change in their notoriously smoggy skies. Commuters — who face a $13 fine if they violate the rule — can take advantage of taxis, extra buses, and expanded subway hours. “Of course I back the scheme,” said one. “It’s all to do with the Olympics … Although it will be a little inconvenient, it’s not that hard to use public transport.” Said a surprised bus rider, “It’s very convenient, actually, it’s no more trouble than taking the car.” Hear that, world?