Beijing managed to take about one third of its city's vehicles off the road this weekend in a test anticipating the 2008 Olympics to be held in this notoriously smoggy, notoriously crowded Chinese city.
The result of the test: A mixture of incentives and penalties worked. Increased bus and subway traffic shouldered the load of 1.3 million vehicles, as drivers left their cars at home, according to the Toronto Star.
The goal is important not just for China's image -- the word "notorious" comes to mind, when pollution is the topic -- but for the Olympians themselves. The captains of Olympic teams from the United States and Japan have expressed concerns that pollution would harm their athletes, or at least diminish their achievements.
Olympic Committee Chief Jacques Rogge went so far as to suggest some contests would be canceled if air quality didn't improve. Now, just imagine what your city would be like if those with even-numbered license plates could drive only on even-numbered days, and those with odd-numbered license plates on odd-numbered days.
It might not work outside an iron fisted government like China's, but the vision offers a breath of fresh air.
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