People ride shared bikes in Beijing. Photos: PCP
Every evening on Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue, sports bikes and shared bikes pass the famous Tian’anmen Square with twinkling lights, painting a charming picture of the double Olympic city.
Cycling is so prevalent in modern Chinese cities that luxury bikes with a price tag of over 10,000 yuan ($1,500) are not uncommon.
“Since the beginning of this year, cycling has become even more popular in Beijing. Many residents are cycling in urban and suburban areas of the capital to enjoy their free time this summer,” said Na Liang, head of a bicycle club in Beijing.
Chang’an Avenue is a favorite among cyclists, not only because of its spacious cycle lane, but also because it encompasses several landmarks of the capital, such as Tian’anmen Square, the National Center for performing arts and the National Museum of China.
Na said cyclists can experience both the modern and historic features of the city along this avenue.
“Beijing’s Second Ring Road is also a favorable route for cyclists,” he added, saying clear signs at intersections and on bridges remind motorists to watch out for cyclists.
In 2021, the sidewalk and cycle path on the second ring road were widened to increase the width of the lane reserved for non-motorized vehicles to three metres.
Beijing’s Chaoyang District has seen five cycle lanes with a maximum length of 25 kilometers, covering Olympic venues including the National Stadium, National Aquatics Center and National Speed Skating Oval.
For the past few weekends, Na and his club members have traveled the rural landscapes of Yanqing, Miyun and Changping neighborhoods in the suburbs of Beijing, accompanied by a supply car to provide bicycle maintenance, catering and medical services.
“About 20 members participated in our commuter bike ride each time, ranging in age from 20 to over 80. We ride all the way through the mountains and along the rivers,” Na said.
In addition to competitive cycling, shared bikes are also playing an active role in public transport, as an increasing number of Chinese people now prefer “green travel”.
According to data released by the Beijing Municipal Transportation Commission, the annual volume of shared bicycles in the capital in 2021 reached 950 million.
“If the walk is a bit slow and the ride is too fast, the bike is fine,” Na said. “People may choose to cycle for exercise or to make friends, but we all share the same passion for the sport.”