Cycling fever reemerges in China

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 21, 2022
Adjust font size:
Visitors view bicycles during the 30th China International Bicycle Fair in east China's Shanghai, May 5, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Putting on a shirt and helmet, throwing a backpack over his shoulder, and going to work, Liu Kai has spent more time commuting now, but he felt "more energetic than ever."

"It all came down to the bicycle," said Liu, who started cycling a month ago, adding that as soon as he sits on a bicycle, he feels fully charged.

Liu, a resident in Taiyuan, the capital of north China's Shanxi Province, used to drive to work 13 km away every day. After noticing more colleagues cycling to work, he decided to hop on.

"Your brain is tense when you're driving because you have to pay attention to the road conditions all the time," the 34-year-old said, noting that the bicycle road he rides on is along the Fenhe River, and he feels his body and mind are relaxed while enjoying the riverbank scenery.

With the continuous improvement of people's living standards brought about by rapid economic growth, "driving to work" once became a symbol of wealth for Chinese families, and has gradually become the usual. Yet, in recent years, the popularization of the healthy-living idea has brought the cycling fever back to China. What is different is that their gears are more professional, and the infrastructure is more friendly.

Three years ago, the opening of a bicycle-only road in Beijing drew much attention. The 6.5-km-long road has no traffic lights and has four lanes in both directions. There was also a reversible lane in the middle for morning and evening peak traffic.

The distance took less than 30 minutes to cover at the designed speed, which was more convenient than the bus or the subway. Local residents called it "the expressway for bicycles." It was reported that as of 2021, the average daily traffic on this road was 4,000 to 6,000 trips.

Beijing has been at the forefront of the country in promoting the slow traffic system in the past few years. According to the survey data, in 2021, the proportion of slow traffic travel in the city's central urban areas reached 47.8 percent, an increase of 6.9 percent compared to 2017. And the annual number of shared bicycle rides in the city also surged from 50 million trips in 2017 to 950 million trips in 2021.

Other than Beijing, cycling roads in Taiyuan, Wuhan, and Fuzhou, to name a few, all provided good conditions for cycle-lovers. Some experts believed that the improvement of bicycle infrastructure across the country was one of the reasons why cycling regained popularity.

In addition, the improvement of the urban environment is another important factor.

Lu Shize, an official with the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and also a cyclist, recalled that the air quality was more polluted in autumn and winter before, and he believed that it was very inappropriate to advocate cycling back then. "But now, the number of people who choose to ride on the streets in Beijing has increased significantly compared with five years ago," he said.

According to the China Bicycle Association, now, more than 100 million people in China regularly ride bicycles or use bicycles as a means of transportation.

Wang Dongli, a 62-year-old member of the Longtan Team of the Taiyuan Cycling Association, said that her 50-member team organizes activities every week. In recent years, she has also cycled in Sichuan, Tibet, and Xinjiang, lightening her retirement life.

According to the data from the China Bicycle Association, in 2021, the total operating income of China's bicycle industry reached 308.5 billion yuan (about 45.7 billion U.S. dollars), with a total profit of 12.7 billion yuan. Besides, the export volume of the industry exceeded 12 billion U.S. dollars, a year-on-year increase of 53.4 percent, hitting a record high.

Since the beginning of this year, rising raw material prices and labor costs have had a certain impact on the industry, but industry insiders still remain optimistic about future development.

"As the epidemic wanes, the operation of the industry will resume stability, and there will be more development opportunities," Guo Wenyu, secretary general of the China Bicycle Association, said at an online press conference in June. 

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:    
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from