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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!!
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.
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!
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.
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!