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January 25, 2010

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Beijing intends to lift bicycle use in the city

BEIJING authorities aim to increase the proportion of cyclists on road from the current 19.7 percent to 23 percent by 2015 to help relieve pollution and traffic jam.

The government will revise and eliminate regulations that discourage bicycle use, and install more restrictions on car drivers, said Liu Xiaoming, director of Beijing's communications commission.

Only 19.7 percent of Beijing residents rode bicycles in the first four months in 2009, compared with more than 80 percent in the 1980s.

By 2015, Beijing government plans to have 45 percent of the population taking public transport, 22 percent using cars, 8 percent taxis, and 23 percent and riding bicycles.

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 cyclists can easily transfer to other transport vehicles.

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

China was called the "kingdom of bicycles" with about 500 million on the streets at one stage.

But the number of bikes has plummeted as private car ownership has increased over the past decade.

Beijing, with a population of 17 million, is home to 4 million cars, which has caused severe pollution, snarled traffic and posed a grave challenge to the country's energy security.


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