Near the Forbiden city, somewhere at the back alley, that means in the direction away from the Tianmen Square, you should be able to find places to rent bicycle. They're a bit expensive because they rent on the hourly charges (around 20 yuan/hour).
I rent my bicycle from my hotel and cost around 70 yuan for 6 hours. It's fun to cycle around the city. You should be able to visit Tianmen square, Forbidden city, Tien Tan Temple, Lama Temple, Wang Fu Jing street, Pearl's market within 6 hours. Although you may want to spend more time on Forbidden City or Tien Tan Temple (with the later one has a lot more beautiful park).
Just be careful to lock your bike and try to put it with the rest of the bicycles you can find. I think in Wang Fu Jing, you can pay about 1 to 3 yuan for parking your bicycle.
There were not as many people biking around Beijing as I thought there would have been. I guess now it's the cool thing to have a car. But from the bike lanes, I know that biking used to be the popular thing to do! The bike lanes are as big as a road! So, you will be rather safe biking! Just look out for the cars as they don't really pay much attention to 'bike lane' and 'car lane' differences!
I didn't bike in Beijing, just because I am very scared of biking...
but I met many travellers who did bike, and they had a really fun time, and explored many places that you would not find if you were on a bus/taxi/metro. They said it was really easy and you have to be alert, but the lanes are so huge, that it's not much problem. They hired the bikes from the hostel for a cheap price.
Beijing, or maybe better China, was the capital of bicycles. Today however the bicycle is still in the streets, but cars and busses win by far. Government is trying to encourage people to ride bicycle in order to stop the pollution. Before the Olympics of 2008 there will be many bicyclepaths made in the city.
If ever there was a city made for the bicycle,
Beijing is it.
Chaotic traffic-filled roads, more-or-less completely flat land, and knockdown cheap rental makes the city the perfect arena to wipe away the cobwebs, and test out those long-forgotten cycling skills.
Yes, it can be heart-in-mouth stuff at times, but its an experience you will not forget!
For me, it was cycling down the main stretch at Yongdingmennai Dajie during rush hour, with huge crowds of locals coming home from work. It was crazy; hundreds of terrible cyclists all banging handle-bars and swerving to avoid each other. Magic!
You can rent a bike easy enough from most hostels for around Y10-30 a day, and the city is very bike friendly, with plenty of designated areas for your high-spec. machines.
Well China is known having many bicycles and it's still true as this picture from 2001 can attest.
However, when I first went to China in 1986, it seemed that 99% of the people used bicycles for transportation. But in 2001, it seemed that 70% used biciyles and the other 30% used motor scooters or cars.
China used to be called the sea of bicycles and in Beijing today the bike is still a convenient vehicle for most people. Renting a bike may be a better way for you to see this city at your own pace. You can rent a better bike in your hotel and pay 20-30RMB for a day's rent, with a certain amount of money for the deposit first.
Cruising the wide streets of Beijing is great on a bicycle and it gets you closer to the masses! You can get a good feel for the city slowly pedaling along. There are bicycle stands at many of the destinations as so many locals use bicycles too! I don't remember the cost of the daily rental but it's very affordable.
Best way to see Beijing is by bike. The distance are great (trust me, I walked quite a bit) and a bike will aid you on your quest to the Forbiden City. Besides, if there is one thing that Beijingers do, it is riding bicycles. Notice the flow of traffic at Gongrentiyuchang Dajie and other streets. It has a few lanes for cars as well as others for bicycles.
Many of the bigger hotels will let you hire a bike (with a hefty deposit) so, make sure it has a good lock because if it gets lost, you lose the deposit. If you park the bike, put something on it which CLEARLY shows you that it is yours (I used to put a red plastic bag over the saddle). Be aware of how to get punctures fixed and where some of the places are because you don't want to be pushing your bike back to the hotel. Beijing is very flat and you'll feel more part of the city if you're riding around the outside of Tiananmen Square.
You'd better want to consider buying a bike if you are in Beijing for an extended period of time. Biking around Beijing is a fun way to get to know the city. Also, there are rarely bike jams. You haven't really experienced Beijing until you have ridden alongside a three-wheeled platform bike loaded sky high with chunks of styrofoam, or had a near miss with a guy in a three- piece suit pedaling furiously to get to work. Amazingly enough, nobody wears bike helmets, except for Domino's Pizza guy on his way to a delivery! There are all different price ranges for bikes. Cheap Chinese-made bikes go for around US$ 30,but you also can get American mountain bikes like Cannondales or Dianmondbacks for several hundred US dollars.Mountain bikes are cool, but actually unnecessary as Beijing is an extremely flat city.
Bicycles can be rented from large repair shops. Chung-Yo Department Store at Xidan has this service: 10 yuan/day, deposit needed, 800 yuan for mountain bikes, 500 yuan for common ones.
Bike's a quick and handy way of moving around in Beijing. Apparently you can also transport more things on the bike than you could fit in a normal car. Is it wise? Well, up to you.
Despite the huge increase of cars, bikes have always been the most used vehicle in Beijing.
Even during winter time...
One says the bicycles are disappearing in Beijing. When I see so many of them, I think it is a wrong idea.