China has made significant strides in building public greenways for recreation and physical fitness over the last few years — including construction standards — an official from the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said at a news conference on March 28.
Zhao Jianrong, from the ministry’s urban construction department, said that as of the end of last year, 56,000 kilometers of greenways had been built nationwide, following a plan launched in 2016. In 2018 alone, 14,000 kilometers of new greenways were built nationwide.
“Connecting greenways provides a green environment for cycling and walking. After people experience comfortable and healthy ways of getting around, it will be easier for them to maintain a greener lifestyle,” Zhao said.
He said events to boost green lifestyles among members of the public have been held on greenways across China.
“For example, runners in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, collected trash and sorted waste while jogging along the greenway. Hundreds of cyclists promoted saving water along the river in Jiangmen, Guangdong province,” he said.
Wang Panyan, deputy head of the China Urban Construction Design and Research Institute, said greenways are designed with the principle of making minimal change to the original landscape but with an aim to improve the local ecology and environment.
Xing Zhengjun, vice-mayor of Nanjing, Jiangsu province, said that during construction, black and smelly water was treated, and companies emitting pollutants were removed.
“Greenways were built on the basis of the local landscape — for example, along lakes, mountains and natural scenic spots,” he said.
In addition to providing ecological benefits for cities, greenways have brought profits from tourism.
Zhang Yi, deputy head of the Zhejiang housing and urban-rural development department, said that after the greenway was finished along Qiandao Lake in Chun’an county, Zhejiang, it received about 17 million visitors, earning an income of 20 billion yuan ($2.97 billion) last year.
Zhao, the ministry official, said that in the future, technical standards for engineering greenways will be introduced.
“We will require that standards be met for facilities along greenways. Draft standards have been completed and are now under discussion. Experience and practice in greenway construction will be summarized to provide instruction to cities,” he said.
“In the future, we will focus more on the development of cities to make them more livable, comfortable and pleasant.”