A volunteer helps a man using a wheelchair to board a bus in this file photo on September 2, 2010. [Xinhua]
Beijing aims to become more accessible for seniors and the disabled.
The move is part of the city's three-year action plan to help people with disabilities to live and work better in the city, according to Guo Xusheng, a senior official at the Beijing Disabled Persons' Federation.
The plan launched by the Beijing Municipal Government covers 17 projects, including the overhaul of roads and public transport, as the capital prepares for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games.
Guo said the action plan is expected to help the disabled participate more in society.
"The renovation and improvement in access is an important step to create a more friendly and embracing environment in the capital," he said.
Guo said the input also signifies that the capital is making an effort to develop into a world-class capital and improve the living standards of its residents.
Supermarkets, hospitals, parks, schools and public facilities will see major renovations, according to Guo.
In addition, 80 percent of bus facilities downtown will have infrastructure in place to assist seniors and the disabled by the end of 2021.
Statistics from the China Disabled Persons' Federation show that China has more than 85 million people who need better access to facilities and transportation, including the elderly, pregnant women and children.
Meng Qiao, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport, said more than 50 percent of the city's 12,000 buses are accessible.
Construction of accessibility facilities for the capital's subway is generally on par with that of other countries, and in some cases even more advanced in terms of technology, Meng said.
"But we still face lots of challenges. For example, many seniors and people with disabilities don't realize the convenience of those facilities and rarely take advantage of them," he said.
Local standards for disabled accessibility in communities, urban rail transit, overpasses and underpasses have been released by the city's planning and natural resources commission. Further, a flurry of guidelines to standardize systematic and universal barrier-free spaces on the street have also been formulated.
Wen Tianwu, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement, said this year the capital has imposed more severe penalties on people who damage accessible facilities. Authorities have dealt with 1,456 illegal acts, up 12 percent year-on-year, and have issued nearly 1.3 million yuan ($185,000) in fines.
"In the future, we will regularly manage accessible facilities to minimize illegal occupation and damage to accessible facilities," he said.
(Source: China Daily)