I was studying Chinese language and culture at BIT, Beijing institute of Technology when I decided that I wanted leave the campus and explore Beijing for my self. It wasnýt long after I arrived (from Australia) before I met some students that could speak reasonable English. They invited me to go to English corner, and there I met lots of friendly people (some to friendly). That that time English corner was in the main building (The modern multi story building in the entry hall at 7pm on Tuesdays). This place became my link with Chinese students and from here I met many friends and was able to resource many local services and activities. The students bent over backwards to help in exchange for some practice of English. I was given and shown maps of buses, trains and road maps and anything else I requested. The best part was that I was taken not that far away to a bike shop. There I purchased a bike for around $25 AUD. I hit the road and explored this city with the other millions of bike riders. What an experience. There are plenty of places to park ones bike, and despite fellow westerners saying that it will be stolen, it remained with me the entire time I was in Beijing (with a trusty bike lock). The only downside was the pollution.
If there is over a billion people in China, I wonder what is the bicycle population? I have seen many and when I was here in the 70's when having a car was just for the lucky few. As one morning I cruise te streets in Peking I saw this wall of people just gliding through the bridge. As I look again where I could not believe how quickly they were crossing the bridge, I find out that they were on bicycles. It was a wall of people just getting frm A to B. They look like ants from a far and was a unbelievable thing to see. On my borrowed bicycle I still suffer from the smog they had, but having a bicycle was better than walking.
Unless you are fully insured, (and I would not recommend doing it even then,) don't even think about renting a bike.
The traffic is horrendous, there are road rules, but drivers seem to forget that fact. Cyclists are at the bottom of the pecking order anyhow.
Beijing is a city of bicycles. Everywhere you go, a sea of bikes can always be encountered. One of the most amazing sights I have seen are swarm of bikes going one direction in an intersection meeting another and they just seem to sieve through each other with no collisions. How? I don't know. For a real thrill, go to Saigon and watch them do the same with motorcycles!
Beijing is neat, in that there are bike lanes everywhere.
Not just skinny lanes off to the side added as an afterthought. Actual full lanes, with a curb seperating most from the general vehicle traffic.
As Beijing's traffic can be very hard, I suggest you to rent a bicycle, even though you must be very careful when riding it because of the chaotic and crazy car drivers and also if you are not used to cycling in heavy traffic, it can be intimidating. Anyway it's a great way to explore and that's a good opportunity to be a local for a moment!
Riding a bike in Beijing is one of the best, most convenient, cheapest, healthiest and safest methods to get familiar with the city.
The roads in Beijing have special tracks for bicycles and places for renting bikes are everywhere. And if you have a flat tire you will find right in the corner someone to repair it .
Many hotels also rent bicycles and the price is about CNY20-30 for the whole day plus a refundable cash deposit.
Just grab one bike and go, go to see the hutongs (small alleys), talk to people, eat on the streets, go, go and explore the wonderful city of Beijing.
This is a great, fun, cheap way to get around and to get a feel for Beijing. With my brother-in-law, my wife & I took in the sites of the Inner city of Beijing. On a not-so-polluted day this might be the optimal way to see the sights and get a little exercise at the same time.
In Beijing traffic, there is always a choice. You can be stuck in a cab, going nowhere, because incapable drivers, trying to get ahead in busy traffic, have blocked up some intersection, leaving an entire block trapped in a huge gridlock. Alternatively, you could be peddling your way through the most narrow hutongs, the wind in your hair, swerving around any obstacles that you might come across, free as a bird. The choice is yours.
Alright, being a Dutchie, I may have a slight predisposition to riding a bike, but I genuinely think this is the most enjoyable mode of transportation inside the center of Beijing. If you never ride a bike in your normal everyday life, just stick to the hutongs. A bicycle will give you the freedom to stop where and whenever you want and allows you to cover larger distances than on foot.
Renting a bicycle for a day should cost you around 20 to 50 RMB, depending on the quality of the bike. Ask your hotel for directions to the nearest rental place.
Bicycles are still by far the best way to get around the city (up to the 3rd ring road). While cabs and subway trains are cheap, these have their drawbacks. The traffic jams in beijing are horrendous and cars are basically stuck on the roads; and the use of subway trains would still involve a lot of walking from the stations to the places of interests.
Bicycles are flexible. They can turn into the hutongs, and circled round the lakes. Most rented bicycles will come with a lock, and there're parking areas for bicycles, guarded by parking attendants.
Be like a local and hire a bike! Bikes are everywhere in Beijing and if you're comfortable negotiating the traffic then hop to it! The roads are very flat and very easy to negotiate. Bike hire is very reasonable and available and heaps of destinations.
No Bike, No Beijing! As known as the "Bicycle Kingdom", Beijing is one of the best place to get around by bicycle.
More and more visitors of Beijing find out that it's not only nicer and healthier to cycle, but in most cases also much faster.
China the country that runs on two wheels!!
Kingdom Bike Rental is helpful!!
We hired a bicycle taxi to take us back from Beihai Park to the Wangfujing Road. The driver quoted 20r for the trip but we got off early after he left the main street and went off down a dodgy looking side road (we were perhaps a little over cautious but better to be safe).
The driver asked for more money than quoted of course, but we paid the agreed amount and walked the last bit of the journey.
I am not sure I would use this form of transport if I had the option again. I felt sorry for the driver as although we are not at all heavy, he struggled to keep the bike going, and also being out in the middle of the crazy car drivers was rather scary!
I spotted this beauty one day coming out of the subway when i was going home! I thought it was hilarious and just imagined trying to ride it!!!! The following day it was there again, and the next day after that too!!! So I became snap happy and headed off home with a smile. The fourth day however, it wasn't there and I was a bit sad....I wonder if someone stole it?
NB. Chinese love to steal other Chinese people's bikes..and foreigner's bikes too!!! They then get re-sold at some market in the north of Beijing at a cheaper price! I am trying to find this said market as I write as my lovely bicycle has probably made its way there too over the last couple of days!!!! I guess I'd better get away from the computer and buy another one!
If you're staying at one of the cheap budget accomodations in Beijing then they may have bicycles available for rent around 15 RMB per day with a deposit. Riding around Beijing is easy as there are sufficient bicycle lanes for you to use and the downtown area is mostly flat terrain. Bike riding is a great way to get off the main roads and head for the hutongs between Beihai Park and the Drum Tower.
Be sure to lock your bicycle as bike theft is still a big problem in Beijing. There are some bicycle parking lots on the side of the street that have an attendant who will watch your bike for a small token fee.