Tag Archives: bicycles

Back in the saddle !

Last week end, were held the Beijing International Cycle Expo and the 3rd Beijing Cycling Festival.

Riding a bike seems trendy again in China.

Visit the expo’s website here.




Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

More Posts

Bringing sustainable infrastructure to urban areas

Grangé, Jérémy and Petitet, Sylvain (2014). For cities of a different nature : bringing sustainable infrastructure to urban areas. Translated by Oliver Waine. Metropolitics, 26 March 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2014 from: http://www.metropolitiques.eu/For-cities-of-a-different-nature.html

City-dwellers want to see more of their metropolitan areas turned over to nature and urban public spaces; however, our cities today are still structured by a network of roads that were primarily built to manage motor traffic flows. Sylvain Petitet and Jérémy Grangé show how implementing sustainable urban infrastructure could provide city-dwellers with easy and convenient access to the places that generate most of their journeys, revealing a new form of network-based public space.



Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

More Posts

Who moved China’s bicycle?

The China Watch. Who moved China’s bicycle? December 26, 2011. Retrieved 30 January, 2014, from http://www.thechinawatch.com/2011/12/who-moved-chinas-bicycle/

Source : 网易新闻. 《看客》 第22期:谁动了中国的自行车. October 5, 2010. Retrieved 30 January, 2014, from http://news.163.com/photoview/3R710001/11177.html#p=6I76BCCN3R710001

Bicycle has been the most familiar “stranger” for China and Chinese people, from “bicycle kingdom” known to foreigners to often hit foreign headlines because of cars made a traffic jam, from be proud of a bike to hot debate for returning bicycle. Who moved Chinese bicycle after 61 years of statehood, as increasing economic development, forward city plan and boom desire of people.

Read full story on The China Watch

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

More Posts

Last of the bicycles?

Last of the bicycles?, Elosua Miguel

The increase of purchase capacity of urban residents has led to a massive increase in the number of cars in circulation within Chinese cities. The once ubiquitous bicycle yields to the (theoretically) more convenient car. In the space of seven years, the number of registered cars in the city of Beijing doubled, surpassing 5 million in 2011.1 By July 2012 there were about 72 million registered cars on the mainland, from just 10 million in 2003.2 At the same time, the city has greatly expanded. Its area spreads over 17,000 square kilometres (almost three times the size of Shanghai). However, although the city has experienced a distinct suburbanisation of the population, more than 60% of the total population lives in 8% of its total area, that is, in Central Beijing (within the third ring). Public transport has expanded in the same fashion. Of the total fifteen existing lines, thirteen were added to the network in the last ten years.

However, the quest for convenience and sustainability might mean the resurgence of bicycles. Commuting time and pollution has greatly increased and the government has started restricting car use to tackle pollution. Some residents might begin to consider it a good idea to dust off their old bicycle. Unlike some European cities, there is no need for added construction in China, since most of the main roads have dedicated bicycle lanes and most cities are flat like a pancake (this is not the case of Chongqing certainly, which is the reason why the motorbike industry developed rapidly there). Likewise, some cities have launched bike share schemes. In 2013, the Beijing municipal government funded a bike share with 14,000 bicycles distributed across 520 stations. According to the website Bikeshare.com, the program has not been very successful so far, with less than one rental a day per bicycle. It attributes part of this failure to the inconvenient location of the stations. Likewise, it reveals a change on the perception of bicycles. Owning a bike was a luxury just thirty years ago, but it became an undesirable, “common” means of transport. Car ownership is still a status symbol for many. The bigger the better, a philosophy which appears all over the world. Perhaps circumstances will make residents reconsider the bike as synonymous of convenience and simplicity, the ultimate sophistication according to Leonardo da Vinci. No doubt there would then be plenty of sophisticated riders commuting by bike and, consequently, air quality would be greatly improved.

Cycle rickshaw, Elosua MiguelCycle rickshaw in Wenchuan, Sichuan. Photo taken in March 2013.






  1. Source URL: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-02/16/c_122713279.htm, accessed on 15 January 2014. []
  2. Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1111021/growing-numbers-urban-dwellers-switch-convenience-carpools, accessed 15 January 2014. []

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

More Posts

“Smarter Than Car”

“ Smarter Than Car ” is an organization founded in 2007 to promote urban mobility by using bicycles.

Source: CyclingAtlas, October 17, 2012. Youtube

Silently flowing through the streets and lanes of China’s cities, an ephemeral army of cyclists pedal their bicycles and tricycles to earn a living.

These men and women work hard, moving heavy loads in all kinds of weather conditions to make deliveries, sell products and services, find and collect recyclables, move furniture and other goods, and clean up the streets. They are the survivors of the fast-eroding Kingdom of the Bicycle.

The fact that motor vehicles were hard to come by before the economic reforms meant that cycle power prevailed in China. Cycling was used for many functions and jobs that otherwise would have been motorized. However, the use of pedal power for jobs was largely confined to official functions since labor controls were strict and even street vendors and other informal workers had a hard time avoiding sanctions. In terms of bicycle ownership, up to the mid-1970s most Chinese were not earning enough to purchase a bicycle, even when there were bikes available.

The Golden Age of cycling in China was the 1980s. Economic and market reforms had greatly improved the purchasing power of the average Chinese and industrial modernization allowed production to boom. However, Chinese were not wealthy enough to afford cars or other motorized transport and so the bicycle was the most popular vehicle. This was when individual and private use of bicycles floured along with cycling for livelihoods and trades. Foreigners reported extensively on the “floods” of cyclists in Chinese cities in the 1980s.

Despite the significant decline in bicycle ridership in China since the 1980s, bicycles are still ubiquitous in cities. While bicycles are primarily used for commuting, shopping and other utilitarian purposes, there are also a bewildering variety of cycle-based livelihoods and trades that have survived, many of which make use of customized tricycles. Cycling for leisure, health, sport and entertainment is increasing rapidly. But the question remains as to whether the cycling livelihoods of China can survive the changes in bicycle culture, urban fabric, technology and cost of living.

Interview with Liman Zhao, founder of Smarter Than Car.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

More Posts - Website

Two wheels good, four wheels bad?

Source: D J Clark & Zhang Yuchen ( chinadaily.com.cn), 2012-10-10

An estimate from the city government in 2009 suggested that the number of bicycles in Beijing was around 13 million. But over the past 15 years the number of those bicycles being used for journeys on the streets of Beijing has dropped by more than half. In contrast, the number of cars on Beijing’s streets has increased fivefold in the same period, adding an additional 4 million vehicles to the city’s 1,400 km of roads. In this video, China Dailyreporter Zhang Yuchen goes out into the streets on a bike to find out what challenges the local government faces in getting more people back on to their bikes.

Watch the video


Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

More Posts - Website