A senior Chinese minister has criticized the Beijing city administration for making it harder for cyclists to get around， saying the country should retin its title as the ‘kingdom of bicycles’ at all costsChina‘s Vice Minister of Construction， Qiu Baoxing， lashed out at city authorities yesterday at the first International Conference on China’s City Planning and Delopment， organized by his ministry in Beijing.
Qiu noted that the number of motor vehicles on China‘s roads rose 20 times between 1978 and 2004 and their numbers could increase five-fold again by 2020. In 2004 there were 27 million motor vehicles in the country and that number could reach 130 million in 15 years， he said.
The explosive growth of motor vehicles has caused severe traffic jams in major Chinese cities and is posing a grave challenge to the country‘s energy security and urban development， he said.Qiu said some Chinese cities are squeezing bicycle lanes in order to make more room for cars， while some Western cities are beginning to build more paths for the cycle riders， Xinhua news agency reported.
The Ministry of Construction is firmly opposed to the elimination of bicycle lanes and has ordered cities to restore them， he said.
The large army of bicycles on the streets of Chinese cities amazed the West when China first opened to the outside world in early 1980s.
It is estimated that there were 500 million cyclists during that time. The number of cyclists has dropped as rapidly as private car ownership has expanded.
It is an interesting topic. We know Chinese used to be sensitive about being called ‘the country of bicycles’。 Now you are more conscious of the eironment after so many years of automobile development.
In India， we have no lanes for bicycles. Instead， we have many motorcycles and scooters， which run together with the automobiles and cause much， much more serious traffic jams. So， we have a much bigger headache than you Chinese have.
In the traffic management and environment related aspects， India has more to learn from China.
I have an electric bicycle. I‘ll introduce the electric bicycle back to India. — Anil Joseph， PTI， Beijing