March 1, 2007 / 5:22 AM / 11 years ago

China seeks to slam brakes on bicycle thieves

BEIJING (Reuters) - China, where bicycles once ruled the road in swarms and still just about outnumber bicycle thieves, is cracking down on bicycle theft, offering rewards for tip-offs on offenders.

China is home to a world-record 470 million bicycles, but theft is widespread. A common topic of discussion among foreign residents is the latest loss, despite chains and padlocks, either in the street or in high-rise lobbies.

“People who provide the police with clues resulting in arrest of more than 15 bike pilferers and seizure of over 50 stolen bikes will, as of Wednesday, be awarded a maximum of 5,000 yuan ($625),” Xinhua news agency quoted Ma Weiya, an official with the Ministry of Public Security, as saying.

The ministry would “take measures to quell rampant bicycle theft such as attaching ID cards to every bicycle produced, requiring real-name identification in bicycle trade and establishing a database of thieves,” Ma was quoted as saying.

A Chinese minister slammed city planners last year for pandering to private car owners and ignoring the needs of cyclists, saying China should remain the “kingdom of bicycles.”

Construction Ministry Vice Minister Qiu Baoxing lamented the fact that some Chinese cities were cutting back on bicycle lanes to make more room for cars even as congested Western cities were building more lanes for cyclists.

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