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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 June 2006, 06:54 GMT 07:54 UK
China 'ignoring cyclists' needs'
By Daniel Griffiths
BBC News, Beijing

Cyclists at a crossing in Shanghai
There used to be around half a billion bicycles on China's streets
A senior Chinese government official has criticised city planners for ignoring the needs of the nation's cyclists.

In recent years the number of bikes on China's streets has dropped as car ownership has increased.

The bicycle used to be China's main form of transport. At one point there were some 500 million on the streets of this vast nation.

Now though the country's wealthy middle classes want cars, and lots of them.

In Beijing alone, it is thought that more than 1,000 new vehicles take to the road every day.

China's Vice-Construction Minister Qiu Baoxing says the cyclist is losing out with many cities cutting back on bicycle lanes in order to make room for more cars.

He said China should remain what he called the kingdom of bicycles.

His comments come after the release of a World Bank report calling on China to develop its public transport system rather than just build more roads for cars.

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