“Chinese Bike Culture” once meant millions of Chinese cruising wide bike boulevards on black and basic commuter bikes equipped with fenders, chaincases, heavy duty racks, and sturdy double kickstands. The bicycle was the preferred mode of urban transportation nationwide, with right of way at intersections and ample parking on wide sidewalks. These days, though, public space for bikes shrinks as prosperous Chinese abandon the poor peasant’s pedalcycle in favor of the rich man’s car at a rate of more than on million new cars and SUVs each month.
Some Chinese have gone upscale with their bikes by buying multispeed mountain and road models. Another cadre of Chinese youth take their bike culture cues, perhaps a little ironically, from American urban centers by adopting fixed gear bike style as their own. (more…)