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Half of Urban Residents Choose Bicycle for Commuting
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About half of Chinese urban residents choose bicycle for commuting despite fast development of public transport over recent years, a transport expert has said.

The number of buses in Chinese cities has risen from 136,000 in1994 to 287,000 in 2004, and the passenger volume has risen from 29.9 billion in 1994 to 42.72 billion in 2004, Wei Qingchao, of the Beijing Jiaotong University, has told a forum in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province.

But when the urban residents go out, one third will walk, less than one fifth take bus, and one tenth choose other vehicles, and about a half ride bicycle, he said.

One reason is that the Chinese urban population usually concentrate on the downtown area of a city and the average distance for commuting is short, he said.

"But on other hand, Chinese public transport still needs improvement, such as punctuality and speed," he said.

Currently, China's mainland has about 500 million bicycles, according to the Beijing-based China Bicycle Association.

A number of Chinese cities have pledged to boost the development of public transport to ease traffic congestion and other problems.

The Chinese capital will raise the number of buses from 18,000 to 19,000 and 21,000 by 2010, and extend the metro from the present 114 km to at least 270 km, according to Liu Xiaoming, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Transportation Commission.

The government is also giving discounts of up to 60 percent for residents --- and even 80 percent for students --- for bus tickets to encourage people to choose public transport.

The city aims to raise the proportion of citizens choosing public transport from about 30 percent to more than 40 percent by 2010, Liu said.

(Xinhua News Agency January 4, 2007)

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