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A long way to "the kingdom of the bicycle"

(China Daily)

08:51, March 02, 2012

Businessman and well-known philanthropist Chen Guangbiao shows his moves on a bicycle in Yuetan Stadium in Beijing on Thursday. Chen provided 2,000 bikes free of charge to schools and communities in a campaign to promote a low-carbon lifestyle. (China News Service/Liao Pan)

PINGYIN, Shandong - As roads become increasingly jammed with polluting traffic, government officials are trying to set a good example by returning to the kingdom of the bicycle.

But going back to two wheels is proving as difficult as actually reversing on them in some cases.

The small county of Pingyin in Shandong province has been testing the use of "official bicycles" to cut exhaust emissions and government expenditure for almost a year. Yet the bikes seem to have remained parked in garages for most of the time.

One day recently at the county government building, 20 bikes for officials were standing neatly lined up and locked in racks. Dust covered the saddles and the tires still had their tiny rubber nodules. They looked like they had hardly been used.

Lian Yubo, an organization management official with Pingyin government, said the result of the cycling initiative had been "fairly satisfactory" but more use of the bikes could be made to be eco-friendly.

"Government leaders in the county cycle when they have time. The most frequent users are ordinary government staff aged between 20 and 40," Lian said.

In April, the county allocated 300 pedal bikes and 100 electric bikes to 32 government departments. Two companies sponsored the initiative.

In 2010, the Shandong provincial government provided 100 bikes for its officials.

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