January 24, 2010 / 11:05 AM / 10 years ago

Beijing wants bicyles to reclaim its streets

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing’s city government wants to reverse the declining trend of people using bicycles to help ease notoriously bad pollution and growing traffic chaos, state media said on Sunday.

A man rides his bicycle past the chimneys of a power station located on the outskirts of Beijing in this October 29, 2009 file photo. Beijing's city government wants to reverse the declining trend of people using bicycles to help ease notoriously bad pollution and growing traffic chaos, state media said on Sunday. REUTERS/David Gray/Files

Twenty years ago, more than 80 percent of residents in China’s capital cycled but that proportion has shrunk to little under a fifth, state news agency Xinhua said, as an economic boom increased the popularity of cars.

The government wants to ensure that around a quarter of the population uses bicycles by 2015. They hope to achieve this by restoring bike lanes which had been taken over for vehicle use and by building more parking places, said Liu Xiaoming, head of the Municipal Communications Commission.

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

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

Beijing is home to around four million cars, out of a total human population of 17 million, Xinhua said.

That has lead to poor air quality and gridlock at certain times of the day.

The city is also investing billions of dollars expanding its subway network.

By 2015, the government wants almost half of the population to take public transport.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait)

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