The Bike Makes a Comeback in China
   2013-10-18 10:32:17    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Lu

 

For years here in China, the bicycle was thought of as nothing more than a means of transportation.

However, these days, a growing number of people here in China are turning to the bike for recreation.

CRI's Jordan Lee has more.

Thirty years ago, if a man wanted to get married, the adage went that he should own a sewing machine, a radio, and a bike.

In the 1980's, bicycle production boomed and it became the vehicle of choice for low and middle-income families

But as more and more Chinese families were able to afford cars, the streets that once streamed with bikes became clogged with motor vehicles.

Cindy Young, a long-time American expert in Beijing, says she has witnessed the city's transformation from bike to car-dominated culture.

"There's been a big difference. I've seen a lot more people getting the motorbikes and electric bikes and opting to not ride bicycles. It used to be the sidewalks were jam-packed with bikes, and now there are a lot less."

But the old-fashioned bicycle is making something of a comeback, as more and more Chinese are turning to cycling as a hobby.

The interest in recreational biking is driven by the middle class. Now that they have their cars for transportation, the bicycle becomes attractive as a recreation or even a luxury item.

Li Zhiwu is one of China's new cycling fanatics.

Police had to hold Li back at the Tour of Beijing because he was so eager to cheer on his favorite cyclist Tony Martin of Omega Pharma-Quick.

"I am one of his big fans. I think he is incredibly talented, he's a champion, and his recent results have been especially good. A lot of Chinese cycling fans support him Besides, I just really love cycling."

Li joined a small cycling club three years ago, as a way to exercise and de-stress from the hectic Beijing life.

"We are just ordinary people. We all have jobs with stable income. We want to use our free time to have fun."

Beijing-based cyclist Shannon Bufton has noticed pronounced growth in the number of Chinese taking up the sport.

"I'm finding that many more people are riding out into the mountains in Beijing. These days when I go out into Beijing, I am counting about 100 to 150 cyclists coming up the other way. Maybe four years ago,ĦĦI would have counted twenty."

Bufton co-founded Serk Cycling, a company that is promoting cycling culture in China.

Serk organizes major events like Beijing bike week, brings in cycling experts to teach workshops, and offers classes on things like how to build a bike wheel.

One of the main problems Chinese cyclists must deal with is polluted air, but cycling lovers are finding ways around the smog.

Serk for example organizes group road rides on days when the air quality is best.

Other groups simply take the time to travel outside the city limits, into the fresher mountain air.
It looks like China is poised for a new kind of bicycle era.

For CRI, I'm Jordan Lee.

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