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City Embraces Bicycle-friendly Planning

Authorities of Guangzhou City, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, are planning to roll out a series of bicycle-friendly measures to encourage residents to travel on two wheels.

Liu Yidong, a spokesperson for the Guangzhou urban planning bureau, said city officials will reopen or set up bicycle lanes along major urban roads where conditions allow. And bicycle lanes will be included in the designs for all new roads built in the city.

The urban planning bureau will also require new residential buildings, especially those near metro stations, to set aside space for bicycle parking lots.

Local lawmaker Chen Zhongqian first proposed the city do more to accommodate bicyclists during the annual session of the city's people's congress in January.

He said many citizens have been using bicycles to commute since the city banned motorcycles at the start of the year.

"Over the past decade or so, many people stopped riding bicycles, as cars, motorcycles and the public transportation system became more popular.

As a result, planners stopped including bicycle lanes when designing roads," Chen said.

"But the situation has changed since the city banned motorcycles.

"The authorities should reopen the lanes that have been closed and offer secure parking services to make things more convenient for bicyclists," he said.

There are about 1 million cars and about 800,000 bicycles in this city of 12 million.

Peng Peng, a researcher with the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, welcomed the authorities' decision to embrace bicyclists.

"Bicycling is a convenient, environment-friendly, healthy and energy-saving way to travel. It is especially good for low-income families," Peng said.

"I think more people will choose to ride bikes when there are enough lanes and safe parking options available," he said. "The changes should also relieve some of the pressure on the city's public transit system."

(China Daily October 30, 2007)

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