Spring has quickly given way to summer in Shanghai. Before too long, the plum rains will bring their annual deluge, followed closely by the steamy heat of August. This is now, arguably, the best time of year to get out and go biking.
I reported a few weeks ago on China’s growing use of bike-sharing programs, particularly in Hangzhou. Unbeknownst to many, Shanghai has an albeit smaller program. Many of you have undoubtedly passed by the racks of orange Forever-brand bicycles locked up around the city. If you noticed them at all, your first reaction would probably be to look for a rental kiosk. If you were unsuccessful in finding one you wouldn’t be alone.
Hailed as a bicycle renaissance in the lead-up to the 2010 Shanghai Expo, the program has unfortunately fallen by the wayside due to lack of government and public interest. While racks do exist in several districts throughout the city, the only kiosks to rent them are found in Minhang and Xuhui. It truly is an example of the best intentions being underutilized and poorly managed. That does not mean, however, that they are impossible to use.
Step 1 – Figure out where you want to go.
Step 2 – Charge your rental card
Step 3 – Find a rental station.
Step 4 – Pick a bike, swipe and ride.
For families living in Shanghai, biking is a great way to see the city and spend some healthy quality time together. Those on short-term assignments to Shanghai might not want to invest in a new bicycle, which makes the bike-sharing program ideal.
For those of us who are here more permanently, going to any one of the myriad bike stores in the city will no doubt yield great results. Giant and Forever are the two major shops you’ll find, with many bikes costing less than RMB600. For fixed-gear lovers, Factory Five and AirWalk make customized bicycles to meet any preference and budget. For those that want something on the cheaper side, but still in great working condition, there is always the Phoenix Graveyard on Chifeng Lu, housing hundreds of used and antique bikes.
The point is to get out there and use the bicycle. Not only is it a great form of exercise, but it takes a car off the road and gets you to most places much faster.
Do you ride your bike around Shanghai? Tell me about it! I’m really interested to see if people have used the bike-sharing program as well.