Page last updated at 05:22 GMT, Sunday, 20 July 2008 06:22 UK

Car restrictions begin in Beijing

An electronic billboard shows details of traffic control measures, Beijing, 20 July
Officials hope the traffic restrictions will improve air quality and congestion

Beijing's authorities have introduced drastic traffic rules in a bid to remove more than one million cars from the streets ahead of the Olympic Games.

The move, part of the fight against the Chinese capital's infamous pollution and congestion, restricts residents to using their cars on alternate days.

Officials hope about half of the city's estimated 3,300,000 cars will be forced from the road over the next two months.

A slew of measures to boost air quality has been implemented for the Games.

Construction workers have been ordered to down tools and high-polluting industries are cutting production.

The authorities have ordered firms, shops and other organisations to stagger work times to cut traffic volumes.

They are also encouraging as many people as possible to work from home.

The city's public transport system has been improved to cater for millions of Beijingers forced to ditch their cars.

Surveillance system

The new car restriction, brought in from Sunday, is enforced using the driver's registration number.

A traffic policeman carries out a check on a motorist, Beijing, 20 July
The control measures are based on drivers' registration numbers

Odd-numbered registrations are allowed to use their cars one day, even-numbered the next.

More than 10,000 detection devices including cameras and "ultrasonic and microwave" scanners have been installed to catch anyone breaking the rules.

Drivers caught by the surveillance network will be fined 100 yuan ($15; 7.50).

The move reflects the importance officials are placing on combating air pollution - which remains a pressing problem just weeks before the start of the Games on 8 August.

The International Olympic Committee has said it could postpone endurance events of more than one hour on days when the pollution is too bad.

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific