Thoughts on My Cycling Trip in China

by Dec 12, 2011
by Amirah Shahid Dec 12, 2011


I biked 1250 kilometers from Beijing to Shanghai in September, 2011. The objective of the ride was to gain a firsthand understanding of the role of the bicycle in China and to investigate how cycling culture and bike infrastructure can be integrated into efficient and sustainable transportation design. I travelled through a spectrum of different urban conditions ranging from the dense municipalities of Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai, through industrial regions saturated with smog, to wide expanses of agricultural fields supporting rice, corn, and cows.

The most notable part of the ride is how feasible it is to bike this transect. Even with months of planning and research before leaving the states, I was nervous about getting stuck in frustrating and dire situations I could not get out of. However, as soon as I began riding out of Beijing I realized that China is made for bicycles. Its rich history with heavy emphasis on bikes as a primary mode of transportation is still evident in China’s automobile age. Bike lanes, separated from the highway by railing or a planted median, were present in even the smallest of towns. National roads, one level down from the main freeways, had limited traffic and wide shoulders. Roads were, for the most part, well maintained and I saw lots of new roads being constructed. It was not uncommon to see other bikes on these roads at all hours of the day. The prominence of bikes can be seen in the frequency and range of bike stores and mechanics set up in everything from a high end retail store to a roadside stand. The high density of bikes made other bikers and pedestrians crossing bike lanes the biggest hazard I encountered.

Even with the China’s obsession with cars and the status it symbolizes, bikes remain an important part of the country’s future. As designers, this presents an opportunity to create sustainable places that benefit from the presence of bicycles (better air, people exercising, less heart/lung disease…) There are several things to consider when trying to promote the use of bicycles. It’s important to have continuous networks where bike lanes connect to other bike lanes. Sections of Shanghai are fragmented and discourage the use of bicycles for travel beyond one’s neighborhood limits. Pedestrian lanes should be big enough and clearly separated from bike lanes to avoid accidents. Increased efficiency with bike lane design will make bike travel quicker—probably even faster than cars in rush hour traffic. It seems that convincing people that they can save significant time in their commute is an driving factor in getting more people out of their cars and onto a bicycle. Other ways to encourage bike travel include providing tax incentive to businesses encouraging the employees to bike, secure bike parking, and making biking ‘cool’ to youth.

This fellowship has been an amazing experience to understand a country and culture that so much of our work is focused in. The slow pace of the bicycle allowed me to realize the diversity the landscape and people as I moved from province to province and neighborhood to neighborhood. Cycling around a project site and its surrounding areas can be a valuable site analysis tool in China. Additional photos and details of what I saw and experienced are on the fellowship blog—updated daily during the trip—at www.cycle-china.com.

Related Reading:

骑行,北京-上海(一)Bicycling from Beijing to Shanghai part 1

骑行,北京-上海(二)Bicycling from Beijing to Shanghai part 2

骑行,北京-上海(三)Bicycling from Beijing to Shanghai part 3

骑行,北京-上海(四)Bicycling from Beijing to Shanghai part 4


Amirah Shahid

Amirah Shahid, YouthLA Volunteer, landscape designer.

1 discussion
  1. Will says:


    I’m Will,Guangzhou.
    I’m really exiting to see someone having a impressive trip by bicycle!
    Thanks for your share!
    I plan a bicycle trip from Guangzhou to Beijing after Spring Festival,
    Wwould I invite you to go together?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Amirah Shahid

Amirah Shahid, YouthLA Volunteer, landscape designer.

铺装 欧洲 新青年读老经典 游乐场 种植装置 宾夕法尼亚大学 风景区 便携 华盛顿 沙龙 植物园 世界风景园林师高峰论坛 文化景观 古根海姆博物馆 冯纪忠 纪念碑 铁路 国际风景园林师高峰论坛 住宅花园 儿童 加拿大 公益 公园 2012IFLA 手绘 哈佛 瑠公圳 自杀 老人 购物中心 风景园林学 旅游 佛罗里达 苗木 银泉市 Silver Spring 低收入住宅 天津大学 安藤忠雄 世博 开放空间 盆景园 Ron Henderson 宋晔皓 张唐景观 碛口古镇 绿色基础设施 鹿特丹 迪士尼音乐厅 裁员 Diana Balmori Prof. Loidl-Reisch 珊瑚礁 王欣 纵向耕作 Gleisdreieck 迪拜 青海 论坛 风景园林学会2013年会 Julius Fabos LABash 绿色设计 预制混凝土 反思 西方建筑 布鲁克林大桥 维吉尼亚理工大学 墨西哥 维格兰 美术馆 Greenway 台湾 雪铁龙公园 陈俊愉 永昌河 孟兆祯 SWA 深圳前海 水文 洪盈玉 Mader 安友丰 设计展 华南 檀馨 SANAA 国家公园 海平面上升 雨水 参数化设计 数字图解 ASLA 行业 毛细水 公共花园 矶琦新 布鲁克林 数字化 学习方法 机场 毕业设计 德国市民花园 岭南园林 太阳能 城市空间 意识形态 Malden 职业实践 张乔松 北欧 希望小学 设景 日本设计 人文 设计研究 中央公园 年会 香港 万科 buffalo 城市景观 地砖 狼牙山 景观都市主义 如园 上海 花园 理论 三倾园 托滕堡公园 北川 Jack Ahern 2013北京园博会 建筑 几何 教学 禅意 GSD James Corner 龙安寺 现代主义 骑行 湿地 竞赛 新加坡 野生动物廊道 纪念性景观 英国 新年 Prof. Gesche Joost 园博会 夏成钢 风景园林 公共交通 技术 风景园林学会2015年会 生态 城市雨水 韩国 贝聿铭 迪士尼 Disney 自然观 康奈尔大学 辰山植物园 Prof. Nigel Cross 刘秀晨 禅修 灾后 树屋 沥青 证书 巴塞罗那 钓鱼岛 考研 北角公园 北林 弗吉尼亚大学 UVa 博士 居住区 IGA 布法罗河湾散步道 广州市绿化公司 讲座 合作 Stoss Landscape Urbanism 视觉文化 Media Ship Dr. Rosan Chow 日本 设计未来城市 会议 洛阳 植物 人居环境 跨学科教育 绿墙 LAM Vista Hermosa 哈普林 halprin 风景园林新青年,就在你身边 Hans Joachim Mader 风景园林月 广场 商业建筑 RTD WEST8 垃圾 logo 清华同衡学术周 南湖中央公园 新西兰 自然文化资源 多样性 鹈鹕湾 政治 碳补偿林 步行街 ASLA学生奖 土人景观 教学元素 首尔 2012IFLA亚太区会议 环境效应 展览 Gesche Joost 朱胜萱 香格里拉植物园 MLA 书评 BIM 非言述性和默会性知识 普渡大学 LIM 北京 加州花园 清华 风景园林学会2011年会 幻觉 钢笔画 泰山 IFLA 联谊 马萨诸塞大学 UMass 王劲韬 种植 Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates 卡尔维诺 场所 Prof. Wolfgang Jonas 区域园林 Kingston University 调查问卷 创业 Ruggeri 护栏 挪威 何巧女 绿色屋顶 就业 西班牙 罗马奖 沃夫岗·哈勃 志愿者 苏州古典园林 德国 绿道 伊利诺伊大学 UIUC 空间 原子城 可持续化 可持续城市 庭院 保护 棕地 摄影 枯山水 经典 法国 喷泉 9.11 年报 低能耗 Xeritown 玛莎·施瓦茨 LEPC 批评 雕塑公园 托马斯·丘奇 散步道 概念方案 五角大楼 经验 NITA 空气污染 TOPOS 保研 交通节点 实验 成范永 雕塑 水景 地震 美国 工程 Prof. Jürgen Weidinger 捷得国际 休斯顿探索公园 多伦多 可持续 韩炳越 流浪汉 雨洪管理 河流 教育 水盒子 Brownfield 俞昌斌 枡野俊明 环境 鸟类 马晓暐 什刹海 翻译 历史理论 朱育帆 留学 滨水 城市 城市建设 校园 AGER 数字景观 Peter Walker 图解 长椅 京津冀 历史 客座教授 设计竞赛 城乡 Vertical Greening Systems TAMU ARC 西安世园会 Juergen Weidinger 盐湖城 视频 方塔园 牛雄 Waterboxx 铺地 马克 纽约 地域性景观