Gridlock in and around Beijing, China is a huge problem — earlier this year a traffic jam outside of the city stretched for 60 miles and lasted ten days. Fortunately, the Chinese government is about to take some huge steps to try to curb it — they’ve just announced that in 2011 a license plate lottery system will be imposed on new vehicle registrations and the total number of new registrations allowed will be roughly 1/3 of the 2010 total of 700,000. With the total number of vehicles registered in Beijing up to 4.76 million from the 2005 high of 2.6 million, it looks like limiting vehicles will be good for the city’s gridlock — and pollution — situation.

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Though the city is specifically targeting the congestion problem, we’re happy that this new strategy will help limit the air pollution problem in Beijing. The air quality in Beijing can be dangerously poor, and with about 1,900 new cars registered every day in 2010 it was on the road to getting worse. Air pollution levels in the city are consistently above what the World Health Organization considers safe — this article from a PRI reporter living in Beijing highlights the city’s air quality problem.

The number of cars in Beijing has grown quickly as urbanization and modernization progresses,” noted Zhou Zhengy, deputy secretary-general of the city’s municipal government, upon the announcement. “This has caused severe congestion in some downtown areas, especially at rush hour. Decisive measures shall be taken to control traffic in Beijing. Otherwise, the congestion will only get worse.” Zhengy is right – congestion will get worse, and this latest measure — though it will probably be very unpopular with new car owners that aren’t granted registration — will surely help curb the unyielding multiplication of gasoline-powered cars and the problems they cause in Beijing. Hopefully, it will drive people toward mass-transit and less environmentally harmful ways to get around.

Via Autoblog Green