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Published on Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rent a bike in Beijing and save the world………or at least the Olympics

China is restricting the number of cars on the road and the number of planes in the air, hoping that pollution and congestion in Olympic City will be eased.

To ease the problem further, it has now been announced that 50,000 brand new bicycles will be available to rent at 230 outlets close to subway stations, commercial districts, Olympic venues, hotels and office buildings as well as in big communities.

Beijing Bicycle Rental Services has so far put 5,000 bikes for rent at 30 franchise outlets and bicycles can be hired at one outlet and dropped off at another.

The bicycle rental program is also sponsored by the Beijing Environment Protection Bureau as well as the anti-theft arm of the municipal public security bureau, because bicycles are frequently stolen in the city.

"This is like a centralised management of bicycles so that citizens won't have to worry about thefts," said police.

This week Beijing ended a four-day experiment to test whether pulling 1.3 million cars off its roads each day would prove effective in reducing air pollution during the Games.

Drivers with even-numbered licence plates, excluding taxis, buses and emergency vehicles, were told to stay off the roads on Friday and Sunday or face fines.  Odd-numbered cars were banned on Saturday and Monday.

Experts say pulling more than a million motor vehicles off the roads in Beijing each day can reduce exhaust emissions by 40 percent.

Officials said the air quality was classified as "fairly good" for the duration of the four days in which car numbers were restricted in downtown Beijing.

The city's subway system saw an increase of 200,000 passengers each day during the test.

Last week the Civil Aviation Administration of China suspended applications for opening new airline companies before 2010 and set a stricter approval condition for the establishment of new airlines.

Report by The Mole

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