Biking becomes new lifestyle trend among Chinese people

(People's Daily Online) 10:21, May 30, 2022

Biking is becoming a new fashion in China, with an increasing number of people regarding it as a popular leisure activity and sport.

A large number of citizens have seen bikes as an important transportation tool for their short-distance travel due to the implementation of routine COVID-19 control measures.

Cyclists bike on the first bicycle-only lane near Longze subway station in Beijing, May 31, 2019. (chinadaily.com.cn/Wang Zhuangfei)

Shared bikes have become the most popular choice for more and more commuters in Beijing recently because the capital closed some of its subway stations starting May 4 to reduce the spread of the virus.

Data from shared bike operator Hellobike showed that in the capital’s Chaoyang district, the rate of shared bike usage during the morning and evening rush hours on May 5, the first working day after the May Day holiday, rocketed 69.2 percent from the previous day. Statistics from Meituan Bike and Qingju, two other shared bike operators, also indicated that more people were making use of their bikes recently.

Meanwhile, sales of bicycles surged both online and offline. For instance, sales of bikes in April and May registered double-digit growth on e-commerce platform Taobao, as revealed by an executive with the platform.

“The sales of children’s bicycles, road bicycles and folding bicycles rose markedly, and that of cycling clothing also increased. This means that more people are beginning to love cycling,” the executive said.

The executive introduced that over 60 percent of bike buyers comprise people aged between 30 and 49 years old, with sales of bikes having grown rapidly in second and third-tier cities in April. As demand surges, supplies of some bikes in the higher-end range are under pressure due to a long supply cycle for spare parts and customs clearance delays, according to the executive.

Some brick-and-mortar shops selling bikes in cities like Beijing and Chengdu have been experiencing shortages.

However, Ding Daoshi, an independent analyst, said that shortages will not be a long-term problem as the resumption of production and work accelerates in some localities.

Ding’s view was echoed by Liu Daizong, director of the Sustainable Cities Program of World Resources Institute China, who said that shortages were largely caused by logistics and a temporary shortage of workers due to the epidemic control measures.

China is one of the top bike producers and consumers in the world. The country’s bicycle production exceeded 34.12 million units in the first eight months of 2021, up 9.7 percent year-on-year, data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed. During the same period, the total revenue of Chinese bike enterprises above the designated size, or those with annual sales revenues over 20 million yuan (about $2.97 million), reached about 145.16 billion yuan, up 30.6 percent year-on-year, while their overall combined profits jumped by 46.4 percent.

Zhang Xiao, a man living in the Huilongguan residential community in the Changping district of Beijing, started to cycle to work two months ago. He usually cycles 30 minutes along an exclusive bike lane connecting the residential community with his workplace in the software park in Shangdi of the city’s Haidian district every workday.

“At first, I just wanted to avoid using the metro for commuting. But when I thought that I could cycle on weekends and learned about the exclusive bike lane, I decided to buy a road bicycle,” Zhang said.

The man also tried an 80-plus-kilometer ride and another cycling trip alongside other cycling lovers. For Zhang, biking provides a good means of commuting and is good for his health, as it is a way to exercise and reduce the time spent during the day tilting his head down to look at the phone.

Liu said that the popularity of bicycles can also be attributed to the efforts of developing “15-minute community life circles” for residents, which imply that within a 15-minute walk, residents can arrive at various service facilities in addition to leisure and entertainment venues, which has been implemented in cities like Shanghai and Xi’an in recent years.

Ding pointed out that the construction of exclusive bike lanes and slow traffic systems in Chinese cities over the past two years has played a vital role in the fashionable return of bikes to roadways. For example, Beijing is planning to build more exclusive bike lanes for its residents.

“Cycling will be the new fashion, and a green and low-carbon way of transport will be further promoted as urban slow traffic systems improve,” Ding added. At the same time, Liu said that cycling is now becoming a new lifestyle trend and one that can represent social progress.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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