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Locals Encouraged to Use Bikes, Public Transport
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Shanghai municipal government will build more than 100 transfer hubs for public transport to encourage drivers to leave their cars at home, an official said yesterday.

He also said the city will construct at some hubs parking lots for bicycles to help the many residents who rely on two wheels, and encourage others to make the switch from four.

Li Junhao, a deputy chief engineer with the Shanghai Urban Planning Administrative Bureau, told Shanghai Daily yesterday that public transport and cycling were the top priorities while the government considers ways to prohibit the rapid increase of private cars.

"We want more locals to use public transport," he said. "And cycling is important to the city as well."

Li was invited yesterday by the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference -- the city's top advisory body -- to attend a symposium on the improvement of public transport.

According to a government-backed survey Li provided, more than one-quarter of residents use bicycles as their main means of transport, more than the total number of those using taxis, buses and the subway.

However, around 9 percent of residents ride a car to work, nearly double the figure of a decade ago.

"We want more people to use public transport instead of private transport," said Li.

He said the transfer hubs will link up bus stops with metro stops.

The locations of the hubs have not yet been revealed, but will include major downtown venues such as the Shanghai Railway Station, Shanghai South Railway Station, and Hongqiao Airport.

The government will change some of the city's 933 bus routes so that bus stations overlap with metro entrances, Li said.

Li said that bikes were important to Shanghai.

"The government will not ban cycling," he said, referring to other cities that have passed strong pro-car measures.

He did not refer to the cities by name.

A senior leader of the State Ministry of Construction recently criticized "some cities" that had banned cycling and turned cycle lanes into vehicle lanes.

Zhao Guotong, an expert on transport and environmental protection, said: "It's stupid to encourage cars and ban cycling because most ordinary people depend on pedals."

"The government still doesn't do enough to prohibit cars, which cause severe traffic and environment problems," Zhang added.

(Shanghai Daily July 4, 2006)

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