Authorities in Beijing are trying to wean the capital's residents off their growing addiction to cars, and to promote a green Olympics, by encouraging them to use more environmentally friendly forms of transport to and from work. On its website yesterday, the municipal government 'appealed earnestly' to residents to take public transport, cycle or walk to work before and during the Games from August 8-24. Authorities said public servants would take the lead. From now until July 19, half the municipal government's fleet of cars will be barred from the roads. This goes beyond their announcement last week that 30 per cent of government cars would be off the roads from July 1-19. Authorities announced last week that, from July 20 to September 20, the capital's 3.3 million car owners would be subjected to odd-even traffic restrictions to help ease congestion and reduce pollution. 'If the last number of your registration is odd, you can only drive on odd dates,' city government spokesman Zhou Zhengyu said. They also said last week that 70 per cent of government cars would be off the roads from July 20 to September 20. Yesterday's statement said: 'China has made a solemn commitment to the international community to bring air quality up to standard and ensure that traffic is safe and smooth. This is very important for us in hosting a high-level Olympics and Paralympics.' Pollution and gridlocked traffic have been major worries for the country in the lead-up to the Games, and many international athletes and environmentalists have voiced concern about the issues. The Canadian athletics team has said it will skip the opening ceremony for the Games, partly over concerns about pollution, traffic and access to training facilities. Former world champion marathon runner and ex-director of the Australian Institute of Sport, Robert de Castella, warned competitors in the marathon they would face tough conditions because of Beijing's chronic pollution. China would suffer a bigger loss of face if the International Olympic Committee was forced to reschedule endurance events to prevent damage to athletes' health - a move it has said it would not hesitate to take.