Beijing to revive bikes for smooth traffic, clear sky

08:23, January 25, 2010      

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Beijing authorities aim to increase the proportion of cyclists on road from the current 19.7 percent to 23 percent by 2015 for a clearer sky and less traffic jams in the capital city.

The government will revise and eliminate regulations that discourage bicycle usage, and install more restrictions against car drivers, said Liu Xiaoming, director of the Municipal Communications Commission.

The proportion of Beijing residents riding bicycles was only 19.7 percent in the first four months in 2009, compared with more than 80 percent in the 1980s.

By 2015, 45 percent of the population are expected to use public transport, 22 percent by car, 8 percent to take taxis, while 23 percent to ride cycle, according to the plan of the Beijing government.

The city will restore bicycle lanes which were cut to make more room for cars and buses. It will also work to relieve a shortage of secure bicycle parking, Liu said.

The government will build more parking lots for bikes alongside bus and subway stations so that cyclists could easily transfer to other transport vehicles.

Meanwhile, the city is making bikes more available for hire. By 2015, about 1,000 outlets will be offering 50,000 bikes for rent.

China was called "kingdom of bicycles" with a large army of bicycles, once totaling some 500 million, on the streets. But the number of bikes has plummeted as rapidly as private car ownership has expanded over the past decade.

Beijing, with a population of 17 million, is home to four million cars, which has caused severe pollution, snarled traffic and posed a grave challenge to the country's energy security.

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