Danish minister tours Beijing on her bicycle

Updated: 2014-01-21 03:33

By ZHAO SHENGNAN (China Daily)

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Danish minister tours Beijing on her bicycle

Danish Minister of Transport Pia Olsen Dyhr (left) and the country's ambassador to China Friis Arne Petersen brave cold weather in Beijing on Monday to cycle to the Danish embassy from her hotel to promote green transportation. About 20 Chinese Internet users, who volunteered for the activity, joined the 10-minute journey. PHOTO BY MA CHEN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Danish Transport Minister Pia Olsen Dyhr began her three-day visit to China in Monday's morning rush hour by riding a red bicycle from the hotel she stayed in to the Danish embassy in Beijing, a city plagued by traffic congestion and air pollution.

The minister traversed Beijing by bicycle to promote green transportation in a modern metropolis.

The whole visiting Danish delegation, Danish Ambassador to China Friis Arne Petersen, and about 20 Chinese netizens who volunteered, joined the 10-minute ride.

"It is not chilly compared to Denmark. ... I could go biking the rest of the day," she told a news conference in the embassy, adding she has gotten used to commuting by bicycle.

Denmark is world famous for its biking culture. More than half of all people living in the capital, Copenhagen, commute to work or school by bike, according to the Danish embassy in China.

The minister said the country, which also has traffic jams during morning rush hour and in the afternoon, aims to be totally fossil-fuel free by 2050.

"The transportation sector will also contribute. It is, as probably also will be in China, the most difficult sector to make fossil-free. But it is still our ambition that we have to ensure that by 2050," she said.

China has also shored up efforts to promote green transportation as many parts of the country have been frequently blanketed by smog in recent years. Beijing, for instance, reported 58 days of heavy pollution last year.

Earlier this month, Beijing's environmental authority said it will extend its air-quality monitoring network with more stations and a focus on vehicles with high emission.

Ma Chen, 50, who joined the bike ride, said rather than curb vehicle use, China should further boost the idea of green transportation among its people and improve infrastructure to facilitate cycling.

"The government and the whole society have a lot of things to do right now," said Ma, a general manger of a high-tech company in Beijing. "Quite a few countries allow cyclists to carry their bicycles to the train or have opened bicycle lanes, so it would be encouraging if China can draw some experience from them."

Ma has three private cars, while a lack of exercise has led to being overweight, decreasing eyesight and poor health. In 2011, he began cycling and taking public transportation to commute, losing about 15 kilograms over the past three years.

"Cycling is a healthy lifestyle, instead of an environmentally friendly show. This is a worldwide trend, and it's not too late for us to start now," he said.