Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rental Bicycles in Beijing

Beijing is a huge city, and traffic laws are often ignored--but cycling is still a good option, especially in the warmer months. There are moreover designated bike lanes along the sides of most roads. These lanes are fairly large and safe; still, caution should be exercised. You are not in Amsterdam.

Beijing BikesRental bikes can be found in many locations. The bikes pictured at right were parked in the Back Lakes area, which is a great place to ride. The parks, lakes, and hutong (narrow alleys) make for a perfect--and safe--placed to spend an afternoon.

In this area there are many good restaurants and bars and shops, for those more interested in the post-ride.

When you rent, if possible you should try to get a helmet and lock. If they are not available, local shops are a good and inexpensive option. Most cycle shops in Beijing do not have English-speaking staff. However, on a ride north of the Forbidden City, I needed to have my brakes adjusted and had no trouble communicating with a helpful young guy in a shop. His fee was reasonable, even by local standards.

Bicycles can be rented from a number of hotels and specialist cycle shops in Beijing. BicycleKingdom is one such option.

By the time the Olympics kick off, there should be more rental shops and improved conditions for cycling.

RickshawAnother option for getting around is the classic rickshaw. The one pictured at left was found in the hutong south of Chairman Mao's mausoleum. It was used mainly for local people shuttling around the neighborhood.

There are tours available via rickshaw. Negotiate hard. And, to be honest, with the size of the city and the amount of traffic, it is not a recommended way of getting around. Also, without a Mandarin speaker along to help you, you may find the fees you negotiated have changed en route.

Hotels in Beijing

Books on China & Beijing

Book the Capital Hotel Beijing Book the Beijing Downtown Holiday Inn