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Beijing Sidelines a Million Cars for Testing Olympic Air Pollution And Traffic Flow

Posted by Author on August 17, 2007

By Daniel Schearf, VOA News, Beijing, 17 August 2007-

Beijing is pulling more than a million cars from the streets to test the effect on air quality and traffic flow. The four-day experiment is part of a search for ways to improve the Chinese capital’s notorious air pollution and horrific traffic jams during next year’s Olympic games. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

For four days, most vehicles in Beijing will only be allowed to take to the road on alternate days – odd-numbered license plates one day, even numbers the next.

China’s official Xinhua news agency says the temporary measure is expected to remove more than a third of Beijing’s three million-plus vehicles from city streets.

If the test leads to significant improvements in air quality and traffic flow, Beijing may use a similar method during the Olympic games next year, when 2.5 million visitors are expected to put added strains on the city’s already clogged transportation systems.

Wen Bo is based in Beijing-based for Pacific Environment, a San-Francisco environmental group. He says limiting cars might affect traffic, but is not likely to have a big impact on Beijing’s air quality. He says the city is surrounded by too much polluting industry for temporary measures to make much of a difference.

“Lots of factories have been relocated out of Beijing but they are still surrounding the city. So, they have to deal with the entire region. It’s not just one city,” he said. “You cannot just have a pocket of clean air and a sea of polluted air all around it. By reducing car numbers on the street, you’re only dealing with one section of the problem.”

Olympic teams are worried that the heavy air pollution may affect their athletes’ health during the games.

The International Olympic Committee president said some endurance events might have to be postponed if Beijing’s air quality is too poor……. ( more details from VOA News : Beijing Sidelines a Million Cars for Olympic Air-Quality Test)

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