Walkers hit by taxi highlight sports facilities shortage

By Shan Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/18 19:43:39

Shandong walking club members take to the streets of Taian on April 13. Photo: IC

Police in Linyi, East China's Shandong Province have been trying to find safe places for senior citizens to exercise after a car ran into elderly joggers who were trundling down a road on July 8, killing one and injuring two others.

However, some grey gallopers have said that the safer places on offer are not suitable and they are likely to keep using the city's roads if no better alternative is offered.

In recent years, accidents or conflicts caused by senior citizens exercising in public have been reported regularly.

Chinese experts said that the situation shows there is a shortage of public sports facilities and community spaces.

Making arrangements

"To guide citizens' safe and legal trips, Linyi police have enhanced their patrols of the road… as well as safety promotion," the police announced on their official Sina Weibo account Saturday.

The notice also said that local police are contacting places such as schools to see if they could make their playgrounds or yards available for groups of citizens to walk or run around for exercise.

The head of the Shanying Outdoor Association of Linyi said Saturday that they have forbidden groups under the association to exercise amid traffic, Beijing-based news website btime.com reported.

"But thousands of people might lose their chance to exercise by walking or jogging," he added.

A taxi hit a Shanying-affiliated group of elderly people who were jogging in a vehicle lane of a Linyi road on the morning of July 8

The taxi driver has been taken into custody, the China News Service quoted local traffic police as saying.

According to China's Road Traffic Safety Law, no organization or individual is allowed to use the road for non-traffic activities without permission, and pedestrians should walk on the sidewalk or near the curb.

According to btime.com, there are around 40 to 50 walking or jogging groups across Linyi under Shanying which organize outdoor exercise in their area, each with from 30 to over 100 members.

The Zaoyuan walking group, another branch under Shanying, has received a notice from police saying that the authorities have arranged for them to exercise in a local high school.

"But the school is too dark at night, and is remote," a member of the Zaoyuan group said, btime.com reported.

A member of another walking group said that she is skeptical of the police's arrangement, because "so many people love doing exercise but the demand for space exceeds the supply."

On Friday, a video of another Shanying exercise group went viral, showing that the joggers were wearing reflective stripes and had a forklift truck in tow to protect them from other vehicles, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

Dancing on graves

Whether they are jogging in traffic or loudly dancing in squares, elderly people's group leisure activities have often caused debates.

A cemetery in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan Province was forced to call time on local dancing grannies news site zynew.cn reported on July 7.

The cemetery's security guards said that locals danced in the cemetery almost every day from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.

A troupe of dancing seniors clashed with basketball players over the use of a court in Luoyang, Henan in early June, which triggered online criticism of dancing groups taking over public spaces.

"Several times each week I am woken up by a community choir of elderly people singing Auld Lang Syne," a resident of Chaoyang district in Beijing told the Global Times.

"Some of them even practice playing the trumpet near my apartment," a resident of the seaside Hebei Province city of Qinhuangdao said.

A commentary published by news portal thepaper.cn said that "square dancing, a popular group activity for Chinese seniors, and walking are the most affordable and convenient ways of exercise.

"That Chinese people like to stay together and exercise should be a good thing, unless they violate the rules and disturb others," Hu Xingdou, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology and an expert on the social issues, told the Global Times Monday.

That so many conflicts and tragedies involving seniors exercising have occurred is proof that there are not enough public sports facilities, Hu said.

Even though China has built a lot of venues, they are usually for professional use only, Hu said.

Hu called for more investment in building squares, grasses and spaces in communities for citizens to exercise outdoors safely. Meanwhile, local governments should regulate and manage activities to prevent these groups from disturbing other people.

Newspaper headline: Wrinkly roadrunners

Posted in: SOCIETY

blog comments powered by Disqus