Bucharest businessmen combine cycling and chic

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The Independent Online

In the city called "Apocalypse on Wheels" for its risky roads and gridlocked traffic, a hundred suit-clad businessmen cycled in Bucharest Thursday to reclaim the capital's streets in style.

"We want to prove that you can bike to work and be well dressed", Tudor Maxim, president of the Junior Chamber International, an organization of young leaders and entrepreneurs, explained to AFP.

"Mentalities have to change in Romania about biking. Lots of people do not imagine you can go to work on a bike," said Maxim, who was also Romania's entrepreneur of the year in 2008.

Impeccably tailored men and women pedalled to work hoping the "business on a bike" scheme will change the image of cycling, but also encourage the municipality to build more bike lanes.

The Romanian capital's roads are far from biker-friendly, counting just 45 kilometres (28 miles) of cycle lanes in a city of two million inhabitants, compared to 500 kilometres (310 miles) in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam.

In 2008 the Romanian documentary "Apocalypse on Wheels" evoked the city's endless traffic jams and erratic car drivers.

Raluca Teodor, 29, director of a tourist agency, on her two wheels wearing fine black tights and a short dress, cycles daily and uses her bike to visit her grandmother 30 kilometres (20 miles) away.

She is in a minority, but in the past two years there have been other signs that Bucharest's inhabitants are considering the two-wheel solution.

Specialized Internet sites have sprouted and a "self-service" bike scheme was launched last year in some of the city's parks.

The organisation, Bate Saua, has also started to run programmes in schools to increase the number of young bikers and make Bucharest roads less forbidden territory for cyclists.

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