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China rediscovers bicycling in car era

Editor:Sharon Lee
Updated:2009/1/4 14:02:56

  HANGZHOU, China -- In China, once called a "kingdom of bicycles," cycling for fitness is making inroads after years of soaring car ownership, officials say.

  Bicycling for transportation was a hallmark of Chinese culture until the creation of an urban white-collar class in the 1990s led many to purchase automobiles instead. But now those same urban professionals are buying trendy, upscale bikes to pursue their fitness goals.

  "Cycling is a remedy for obesity. Cycling invigorates and inspires me," said Shen Kailun of Hangzhou, capital of eastern China's Zhejiang province, who rode his bicycle up a hilltop in the city's "First Ride in 2009." "I'm now better off on my bike."

  Another participant, Xiao Jing, said recreational cycling is fashionably "green," more so than fitness equipment. Xiao, the assistant editor of a local newspaper, says he joined a "night cycling" club three years ago.

  "Almost each of the cyclists that I know can afford a car. However, in a world where people live to work, not work to live, cycling can add fizz to our lives," he said.

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