Sports and shared bicycles swing past landmark in dual Olympic city
Published: Aug 11, 2022 07:45 PM
People ride shared bicycles in Beijing. Photos: CFP

People ride shared bicycles in Beijing. Photos: CFP

Every night on Beijing's Chang'an Avenue, sports and shared bicycles swing past the landmark Tian'anmen Square with sparkling lights, painting a charming picture of the dual Olympic city.

Cycling is so prevalent in modern Chinese cities that luxury bicycles with a price of over 10,000 yuan ($1,500) are not uncommon.

"Since the start of this year, cycling has become even more popular in Beijing. Many residents ride bikes in urban and suburban areas of the capital to enjoy their leisure time this summer," said Na Liang, leader of a bicycle club in Beijing.

Chang'an Avenue is one of the favorites for cyclists, not only because of its spacious cycle lane, but also because it takes in several of the capital's landmarks, such as Tian'anmen Square, the National Centre for the Performing Arts, and the National Museum of China.

Na said that the cyclists can feel both the modern and historical characteristics of the city along this avenue.

"The second ring road in Beijing is also a favorable route for cyclists," he added, saying that the clear signs at intersections and bridges remind motorists to watch out for cyclists.

In 2021, the sidewalk and bikeway on the second ring road was widened to increase the width of the non-motorized vehicle lane to three meters.

Beijing's Chaoyang District has seen five cycle routes of up to 25 kilometers completed, covering Olympic venues including the National Stadium, the National Aquatics Center, and the National Speed Skating Oval.

On recent weekends, Na and his club members have ridden around the rural landscapes in Beijing's suburban Yanqing, Miyun and Changping districts, accompanied by a supply car to provide bicycle maintenance, catering and medical services.

"About 20 members participated in our suburban cycling each time, ranging from 20 to more than 80 years old. We ride all the way in the mountains and by the rivers," Na said.

In addition to competitive cycling, the shared bicycles also play an active role in public transport, as an increasing number of Chinese people now prefer a "green trip."

According to data released by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport, the capital's annual cycling volume of shared bikes in 2021 hit 950 million.

"If walking is a little slow and driving is too fast, cycling is just right," Na said. "People may choose to cycle to exercise or make friends, but all of us share the same passion for this sport."