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Cycling in China

September 27th, 2010 | Categories: People | Post Comment

Today’s blog comes from Renee Samuels, who works with Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood & Economic Development.  Renee has been helping me promote cycling in Baltimore by setting up bike tours & presentations. 

When I traveled to China in early September, I jumped at the chance to see Shanghai at night, by bicycle. I have never enjoyed a guided tour as much as I have by bicycle!

First, it’s so fast for getting around. You see everything around you up close (including pink scooters). You’ll get off the main roads, travel the side alleys and still manage to work off all the extra calories you’ve taken in eating the local food. We only had full days in the city, and limited touring time, Elizabeth and I wanted to make the most of it. Everyone bikes in Shanghai. It’s eye opening.

I’ve never seen so many bicycles on the road nor amenities for cyclists. Real parking. Real biking lanes. Roadside bicycle repairs. And no helmets to mess up your hair.  Babies and children on the backs of bikes. Or, in between their parents legs on the scooter. People rode side saddle on the backs of bikes and scooters too.

In Shanghai, we used China Cycle Tours for a 3:00 pm. to 10:00 pm night tour. This gave me enough time to go fabric shopping at the cloth market in the morning and let the humidity and heat cool off. Plus, Shanghai is beautiful at night. We went through Wen Mia, the only Confucian temple in Shanghai; Xintandi which is a former Jewish settlement and now eight acre shopping center (think the small streets of Prague); the Dong Tai Road Antique Market, and the Bund.

The Bund makes NYC’s skyline look like a nightlight.


It’s remarkable simply the way a city of 20 million moves people around the area. Traffic would be completely gridlocked if everyone on bicycle, electric scooter, e-bike or mass transit decided they should have a car and drive. There are totally separate and protected bike lines all over the city. There is bicycle parking everywhere. And, I mean everywhere you look. Scooters, cars, bikes and pedestrians truly share the road. What I found most enlightening is that bicycles are an absolutely common form of transportation and way to move cargo.

The best part though? My new bicycle parka! I became obsessed with getting one of these after seeing them in a photo there. It covers both you and the bike and has holes and cuffs to keep our hands dry over the handle bars. It has little clips to attach to the bike to prevent it from riding / blowing up in your face.. I actually kind of want it to rain so I can wear it out now that I’m back home in Baltimore:).



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