A senior plays Chinese chess with her grandson at a park in Beijing in May 2021. (Photo by KEVIN FRAYER/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Measures aimed at improving residents' living standards and returning space to the public have been unveiled by the Beijing municipal government.
In the Hujiayuan community in Dongcheng district, an old building that housed a boiler to heat apartments has been transformed to provide amenities, including a welfare center for the elderly, a fitness center and an underground parking lot.
The boiler room site had been vacant since winter 2016, when heating pipelines in the community were taken over by the government.
Supported by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, work on an improvement project for the Hujiayuan community began in 2017, and about 660 households have benefited.
Lyu Yuhong, 73, who has lived in the community for more than 30 years, said the improvements have made her life much easier, as she can now visit a doctor and exercise in her neighborhood.
Meanwhile, on South Xinhua Street in Xicheng district, close to the Dashilan tourist area, trees have been planted, and nonmotorized areas are planned. Exercise and rest areas have also been provided to meet residents' needs.
According to the commission, 10 improvement projects for public spaces in Beijing were piloted in 2017 in Dongcheng and Xicheng districts.
By the end of 2021, the commission had identified 100 such projects in seven districts of the capital aimed at improving transportation, upgrading greenery work, and providing additional public facilities to improve the quality of living at a low cost.
A guideline released by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Planning and Natural Resources in December is designed to turn vacant space under bridges into integrated facilities such as bus stations, parking lots, urban sanitation services, public activity spaces and special sports venues.
Liu Daizong, China sustainable cities program director at the World Resources Institute, said it is vital to improve the living environment for residents in Beijing, and make full use of public space.
"Redesigning a street is one way to change its appearance and make it more orderly, but after this work is done, vehicles may still occupy the street — sometimes taking up space needed for bicycles or pedestrians," Liu said.
"The way you manage this is to operate and maintain the order of the street from the start by clarifying its functions so that people know that public space is being returned from vehicles to people and that traffic congestion can be reduced."