Bicycles of China

Bicycles have been the dominant form of transportation in China since the 1950s. When people think of China, one of the images to come to mind is of hundreds of bicyclists in the streets. After the 1949 Revolution, and in Mao’s heyday, owning a bicycle was seen as a status symbol, something to aspire towards having. Bicycling was promoted by the new Communist government, in part through subsidies for both producing and buying bikes. The term “Critical Mass,” now used by bicycle advocates in the West, originated in China as a way to describe the number of bicyclists needed to move across an intersection as a group.

Bicycles are an ideal form of transportation, providing a convenient, economical, and ecologically friendly way to get around. Bicycles are a key to the way out of the contemporary crises of climate change and, in the US, increasing obesity and other health problems.

Unfortunately, bicycles in China are being eclipsed by the car, an invention which is making a significant contribution to humanity’s demise as a viable species. US automakers, in a clear case of putting profit ahead of human health, are moving in on the China market. Millions of cars are being sold in China, with the total number sold increasing by one million per year. Cars are overflowing into the bicycle lanes here, and Chinese cities are now experiencing all the joys of rush hour traffic, pollution, and other benchmarks of the Western standard of living.

People in the US, particularly in places like Portland, Or, Chicago, and San Francisco, are increasingly riding bicycles, and devoting more money to developing an efficient bicycle infrastructure. Lately I’ve been photographing the bicycles of China, in part to inspire people to put bicycles to creative uses elsewhere. It’ll be interesting to see how this whole climate change scenario plays itself out over the coming years. I believe bicycles are part of the solution.

Man With Greens
A new page has been added in the column on the right, called Bicycles of China. There I’ll be posting photos of various bikes, and trikes, from around the streets of Chengdu and other parts of China. When I have enough, I’ll be submitting a photo essay to a Portland bike blog called bikeportland.org. Tell me which ones you like best, and check back periodically as I update the page.

About these ads

One response to “Bicycles of China

  1. Paul,
    What a great idea! Submit to various other publications all around the globe and companies which produce bikes. Remember Schwin? We have a fabulous bike store in Wilmette that serves Chicagoland. SunTimes Pioneer Press covers suburbia and may be interested in an article covering bikes in China. The pic shown is the perfect bike to take to the Farmers’ Market. Imagine creating various styles of bikes to fit age and lifestyle! Bikes help us move toward a lifestyle we can all embrace
    Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s