“Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.” That’s a quote by famous American writer Mark Twain, which aptly applies to Beijing, where most of its roads have designated cycling paths. The traffic lights in the city even have bikers in mind!
Apart from cycling to tourist destinations such as the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square, also go on the unbeaten paths to explore the hutongs (old alleys).
When tired, cyclists can easily find a place to park their wheels particularly outside subway stations.
Then, find a place for a cuppa or tease your taste buds at shops or restaurants, which are easily available throughout the city.
During summer, cyclists could consider riding in the evenings when the sun has set and traffic slows down. Evenings are the best time to explore Beijing’s Olympic Forest Park, to be one with nature.
For first-time riders, the Olympic Forest Park provides good training as it is less physically challenging than other long-distance routes.
A good place to stop for a panoramic view is at the crossing of Kehui Nanlu and Hujing Donglu, where one could soak in the iconic architectural achievements in the Olympic Park area such as the National Aquatics Center, also known as Water Cube, and the National Stadium or Bird’s Nest, which sparkles in the dark.
Cycling should be encouraged to reduce traffic congestions and air pollution in the city.
Recommended cycling route: Aolin Xilu – Aolin Bridge – Aolin Donglu – Beichen Donglu – Kehui Nanlu – Beichen Xilu – Aolin Xilu
Estimated duration: For cycling rookies and those who are not familiar with the route, the gentle 8.2 km journey will cost them 15 minutes.
Best time to cycle: Summer as most places are shaded and cycling can actually ward off summer heat.
Bicycle rental: Bicycle rentals are available near subway exits at the city’s CBD area in Chaoyang district.
You will be able to use the bikes for free for half an hour after paying a 300-yuan ($48) refundable deposit. Pay 0.5 yuan if you need the bike for between 30 minutes and an hour, and one yuan per hour to use the bikes from one to 48 hours.
Reminder: Ride slower when approaching the slopes upon reaching Aolin West Bridge and at the turn to Aolin Donglu. Do bring a flashlight if riding at night along Aolin Donglu as there is no street light.