Bicycles in Beijing and Shanghai

9/21/02 - 9/30/02

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One of the things that has excited me the most about china is the way the chinese use bicycles for all aspects of transportation.

Bicycles are not used for exercise, but rather as a practical means to get to and from work, transport ones family, freight, mattresses, water coolers, etc.

In large Chinese cities bicycles are a necessity. There are dedicated lanes for bicycles that are seperated by a concrete curb.

Bicycle traffic is huge in Beijing -- Shanghai has far fewer bicycles. Perhaps this is because Beijing is far more spread out than Shanghai and the prosperity of Shanghai has allowed many people to buy automobiles and ride the buses.

What is a shame is that both cities are building huge amounts of highways inside the city and reducing the amount of dedicated space for bicycles.

It is easy to romanticize the bicycle, but it is not ideal for the rider in the rain or cold weather, but with 13M people in Beijing, it will not be possible to build enough parking structures to accomodate the influx of new automobiles. Already Beijing looks much like Los Angles and the current Las Vegas, with its extensive ring road highways around the city.

Western cities could perhaps learn from what China has been able to accomplish with bicycles and then perhaps someday, the trend will move towards more bicycles in china as well.

The photos in this sequence while walking and driving. There are additional photos that I took during my bike tours of Beijing.


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