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Shenzhen Drivers Walk to Work on "Car-free Day"

Thousands of car owners in the southern boomtown Shenzhen walked to their offices Friday to mark the city's first "car-free day".

Incomplete statistics show 100,000 drivers in Shenzhen left their cars behind and walked, took a bus or rode a bicycle to work on Friday, shortly after the 33rd World Environmental Day that fell on June 5.

The municipal government has marked the first Friday following the World Environmental Day every year as a "green action day" -- a day for the government and people to carry out varied public welfare activities for the betterment of the city's environment.

This year's "green action day", the first of its kind, carries the theme of "reducing exhaust emission to have more blue sky".

"Get out of your car, stretch your legs and breathe some fresh air," reads a circular on the municipal government's website.

Government officials and other public servants are the major components of Friday's hikers and cyclists, who are also joined by thousands of ordinary citizens. Some even left home at daybreak and walked for hours to their offices.

"The morning air is so enjoyable that I think it's worthwhile to spend the time," said a Mr. Song, who walked three hours from his downtown home to his office in the city's outskirts.

As a special economic zone, Shenzhen has reported fast economic growth over the past two decades. Every 100 families own an average 23 motor vehicles and exhaust emission has therefore severely endangered the local air quality.

A spokesman with the Shenzhen environmental protection authority said the themes of the "green action day" may not all be the same each year. "We also encourage the citizens to refuse disposable chopsticks, foam packages and plastic bags and use green material to improve the environment."

Prior to Shenzhen, Chengdu, capital of the southwestern Sichuan Province, marked a "car-free day" on October 14, 2000.
(Xinhua News Agency June 12, 2004)

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