Chinese city dwellers are hot to trot after police close streets to help nocturnal walking groups

Cars banned from certain roads in the evening to allow people to exercise safely – but some motorists question why they can’t drive where they want

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 August, 2017, 8:45pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 August, 2017, 8:45pm

A traffic control order in eastern China to cordon off a few streets every night to allow people to take a brisk walk has prompted a debate.

Since Friday, cars have been banned from a few streets near Qingdao’s Badaxia Square in Shandong province between 6.30pm and 9pm, Bei jing Youth Daily reported.

Any cars violating the traffic ban could face punishment, although the police did not say what the penalty would be.

Critics of the plan have asked if the right to use public roads has been compromised, but supporters say it will be a better use of public resources given that the roads affected are not busy at night.

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Traffic police in the city argued that the decision had been made based on a series of investigations and surveys.

Walking briskly at night is becoming popular in the coastal city. People dressed in uniforms have been exercising in groups, and sometimes chanting slogans, at night in the square for the past two years, Wang Haipeng, a local resident, told the newspaper.

Another resident, a 30-year-old identified only as Yang, said that by joining a brisk walking group at night he could also make new friends.

But with more and more people joining in, there is not enough space in the square and walking groups have started to fill the streets.

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Videos and photos of elderly men and women in uniforms walking on the streets in Qingdao have been widely circulated on the internet, raising concerns about safety.

Police said that the ban could be temporary and would be adjusted based on the traffic flows on the affected streets.

A commentary posted on a website affiliated with Guangming Daily asked: “If we can close off roads for brisk walkers, does it mean that we can close off roads to play football if more people love football?”