Module 3: Write-out
Hello, everyone. I’m Qiqi. Today I will be introducing the changes in bike culture over recent years in my hometown Shenzhen.
Shenzhen is located in the south of China. It’s about 30 minutes’ drive from HK. In May 1980, the president made Shenzhen the first “special economic zone” – where foreign direct investments and private enterprises were allowed. And since then, Shenzhen became an immigrant city and so it has a lot of diversity. The weather in Shenzhen is always nice, except for the summer time. But overall, Shenzhen has great weather for cycling. Comparing to other major cities in China, Shenzhen is the most industrialized yet least air polluted city. All these factors make Shenzhen a very bikeable city.
In 1985, cycling contributes 44% of the transportation in Shenzhen. Back then, bicycles are considered a symbol of poverty. For the majority, it was only a tool to commute rather than for recreational purposes. Although there were a few bikeways at first, since bikes were so popular at the time, and cars were considered luxuries for most of the families, it seemed to be no reason for the government to design more bikeways for the cyclists.
As the economy developed and the pace of urbanization accelerated, people got higher income and cars were no more unaffordable. There were more and more vehicles on the road, and the conflict between cars and bicycles started. Cyclists used to be so brave on the road. They were not afraid of getting hit because they knew they wouldn’t. They knew drivers would make way for them because there were so many of them as a team to cross the street.
But the time had changed. Vehicles overcame bicycles. In 1993, the government decided to remove the existing bikeways in order to make more space for cars. In addition, the government also broke the sidewalks in half. Cyclists and pedestrians now had to share a narrow path, and some bikeways don’t even make sense. Because of the unreasonable design, bicycles lost popularity. In 1995, only 22% of the transportation was made by bikes. In 2010, it dropped to 6%.
On the other hand, the loss in the bicycle as a commuting tool make people see other characteristics of it. People starting to think, hey, we don’t have to have a destination, we can just ride for fun. Or, we can have an eco-friendly wedding. So this “old-fashioned” wheel thing become a toy for young people, especially the hipsters.
In 2016, people bring back the “old-fashioned” and make it fashion again. Mobike, the biggest bike-sharing company in China launched their bikes in Shenzhen city. It soon became popular among the city. According to the company’s statistics, even at 3 AM, there are still lots of people riding bikes. What’s more, three months after Mobike launched, bike use in Shenzhen increased to 10.7%.
Bike sharing certainly is a successful idea, however, as it grows, there are issues about parking and stealing. The companies are cooperating with the government to make it more organized. Recently, Shenzhen added more bikeways in the city. The government is also proposing elevated bike path in order to make the traffic lighter. In fact, there’s a city called Xiamen already did this and it only took less than a year from planning to completion. I can see how this is going to be a mainstream and I am looking forward to seeing China become the Kingdom of Bicycles again.
Link to my slides: https://docs.google.com/a/dons.usfca.edu/presentation/d/1rndfSX_cJ7rwSI6MjIZgT2FqpkJYvnDy2adWck0RMKM/edit?usp=sharing