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Interesting Rail Fact in Chongqing, China

For those who don’t know, I had my undergraduate studies at a mountainous city called Chongqing. It is one of the municipalities city in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing), meaning the city is directly controlled by the Chinese government. Metro Chongqing has a large population of 18.4 million people.[i] Chongqing is located at the Midwest of China, four major parallel mountains across the whole province, and 2 major rivers (Yangtze River and Jialing River) run through the area.

Above is just a little background of Chongqing, the city’s topography is a typical mountainous city in China. Like other metropolitans, Chongqing has many modern skyscraper, and modern public transportation is convenient to get around each of the districts. Monorail is one of the most used way to get around in the city. Remember that the city is built on the mountainous topography, which means the rail can’t always run underground, it kind of look like the trains run from tunnel to tunnel.

 

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City Skyline

(Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/SkylineOfChongqing.jpg/842px-SkylineOfChongqing.jpg)

I would like to share some interesting stories when I lived in this city.

  1. Underground construction going on everywhere. Our campus in located in the middle of downtown. Same as regular campus, we have football field, library and classroom buildings. Regardless what’s on the surface, the underground level is all retails stores. Basically, the whole underground of the campus was under construction. The first year when I was there, my classmates and I could hear the “bomb” sounds when they were building the underground railway.
  2. The only flat area in this city is used for the airport.

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The Picture above shows the typical traditional mountainous building in Chongqing (Daytime view)

(Source: http://www.chineescapade.com/Admin_Manager/uponepic/guide-touristique/images/20141/ancienne-Chongqing-article.jpg)

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The complicated topography makes the night view really stunning. (Night time view)

(Source: http://www.echinacities.com/userfiles/2010-Year/10-Month/9-Day/image004(2).jpg)

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(Source: http://travel.chinesecio.com/en/image/attachement/jpg/site3/20091010/00235aa6948a0c3a34081b.jpg)

         3. The only flat area in this city is used for the airport.

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Staircase everywhere (Apple store plaza)

(Source: http://cdn.iphonehacks.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/apple-jiefangbei-store.jpg)

        4. When you get off the monorail, you will be surprised to find that you are at the 8th floor.

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Highest overpass between buildings

(Source: https://i2.wp.com/china-underground.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Highest_overpass.jpg?fit=1000%2C750)

        5. The most astonishing fact is that the rail goes through core of residential flats in the middle.  

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(Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/news/2017/03/20/JS123737351_Visual-China-Group_Light-Railway-Passes-Through-Residential-Building-In-Chongqing-large_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bqr1-IQesdsNm9WbsCncdC0h-6hHT5d1My5NPMLxxGU0U.jpg)

        6. Complicated transportation.

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(Source: http://icaa15.cqu.edu.cn/common/images/night_view2.jpg)

The city still charming to me, it is so special. I love Chongqing, includes the scenery, the people and the Sichuan cuisine.

[i] http://countrydigest.org/chongqing-population/

 

Mei Fang, is an urban planner with a strong passion in urban and landscape design, she also enjoy looking for the variety culture inside of the city.

Streets for walking and biking only

A Tale of Three Cities – Paris: Meeting the Step Goal

In a Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” However, in my Tale of Three Cities, it was only the best of times. In March 2017, I spent a week visiting three cities in Europe thanks to a flight deal to Paris, France. My friend and I flew into Paris and stayed there for a few days. Then we took the train to Brussels, Belgium, followed later by another train to Amsterdam, Netherlands, and eventually made our way back to Paris. As followers of this blog, you know about my passion for transportation even on vacation. In a multiple part series, I will reflect on my experience biking, walking, and using public transit (rail and bus) in each city. For the first post, I will discuss moving around Paris.

During my time in Paris, I mostly walked and used public transit. Although Paris has a bikeshare system with stations every few blocks, I chose not to bike while I was there because walking was more convenient and people drive aggressively. The popular tourist locations are spread around the city in different arrodissements (political districts) and the easiest way to move between the tourist areas was transit. When I wasn’t on public transit, I was walking to get to the museum or tourist location. Each day, I walked over 20,000 steps according to my phone app.

My transportation takeaways from Paris are:

Make it Easy for Visitors

Unlike other tourists’ cities that I have visited or lived including the District of Columbia, Paris makes it easy for visitors to move around.  Prior to arriving I purchased a 48-hour Paris Pass, which included unlimited rides on the transit system. For the time my pass was activated, it made using the transit system seamless. I did not have to worry about loading any money or trying to figure out the cost of my fare. It also encouraged me to use transit over taxis or rideshare to be able to take advantage of my pass.

Despite not speaking French beyond basic greetings, I easily navigated the transit system. Like other transit systems, multiple train lines with different destinations serviced the same platform. In Paris, real time digital transit signs provided information on all the stops on the next train’s route to prevent people from getting on the wrong train. In addition, it gave an actual time of arrival versus a generic 5 minutes as seen in most cities’ transit systems.

Although the wayfinding through the transit stations was overkill, I didn’t get lost, so they met their objective. In all the transit stations, the exits were numbered. Therefore, when GoogleMaps directions told me to use exit 5, all I had to do was look for exit 5. While that seems like a minor detail, when you don’t know the country’s native language it is much easier than trying to match words. When I came out of the transit stations, there was pedestrian scale signage to guide me where to go next, especially in the tourist areas.

Some Streets are for People

For periods of the day, some streets in Paris converted to walking and biking only streets. They were generally narrow, cobblestoned streets with retail and restaurants along the sides. Most of the restaurants had outdoor seating, which made for prime people watching (one of my favorite things to do). Although people could bike on these streets, it was a challenge given the volume of people walking and the cobblestones.

Outside of the walking and biking only streets, Paris had bike infrastructure such as bike lanes and contraflow lanes in roundabouts and one-way streets. However, on multimodal streets, people drive dangerously. With the traffic congestion, no one drove particularly fast, but they make sudden and aggressive movements to get in front of another driver without paying much attention to people biking. Hence, why I did not bike while I was there.

It’s the little things

There were little things about Paris that made for a great environment for moving around. As someone who is always on the search for somewhere to charge my cellphone, having a USB port at the bus stop was a small amenity with big value. Another small thing is that I could easily distinguish which taxis were on duty based on their lights. The taxis with green lights were available and red lights were unavailable. Again, helping the tourist effectively navigate the transportation system without knowing the native language.

In the next post, I’ll discuss moving around Brussels, Belgium.

Veronica O. Davis, PE is a transportation guru who uses her knowledge to spark progressive social change. As Co-owner and Principal of Nspiregreen, she is also responsible for the management of the major urban planning functions such as transportation planning, policy development, master planning, sustainability analysis, and long range planning. In July 2012, Veronica was recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House for her professional accomplishments and community advocacy, which includes co-founding Black Women Bike.

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How Transportation Shaped Black Communities

Transportation is a tool that can be used for the good of the community or the good of one community over another. It can be the glue that holds everything together or be like a knife that divides.  It can be the center of life, culture, and entertainment. It can also be a place where dreams are deferred. For this Black History Month post, I put together a list of some articles, websites, and critical reads on how transportation has shaped black communities for good and for bad.

Thriving Corridors of Life and Culture

U Street NW in the District of Columbia: U Street NW was once a thriving cultural corridor with Black entertainers such as Duke Ellington. Today, his name is used for names of apartment buildings. Here is a list of articles and books about U Street.

Greenwood, Oklahoma: In the early part of the 1900s, Greenwood was dubbed “Black Wall Street”. There were thriving businesses and culture. In 1921 it was all destroyed by the Klu Klux Klan.

Sweet Auburn, Atlanta


Transportation that Divides

Cross Bronx Expressway: Most urban/transportation planners know the name Robert Moses. He was “visionary” behind the highway. Constructing the highway displaced thousands of families and divided the Bronx.

Public Transportation and Highways

Veronica O. Davis, PE is a transportation guru who uses her knowledge to spark progressive social change. As Co-owner and Principal of Nspiregreen, she is also responsible for the management of the major urban planning functions such as transportation planning, policy development, master planning, sustainability analysis, and long range planning. In July 2012, Veronica was recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House for her professional accomplishments and community advocacy, which includes co-founding Black Women Bike.





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