With a staggering 1,014km in bike lanes, Beijing should, in theory, be a cyclist's dream. However, with bike lanes frequently used as parking spots and cars freely able to drive down them, that dream can become a congested nightmare.
Well, here to put the 'friendly' back into the city’s bike-friendly roads is a 6.5km-long bike-only road that's set to link Huilongguan in Changping district to Shangdi in Haidian district, crossing the Jing-Zeng Highway along the way.
The 6m wide cycle-way aims to spare an estimated 116,000 daily commuters the Line 13 crush during morning and evening peak periods. While just three stops away, queues during rush hour often result in an average commute of 40 minutes. Driving the 6km, on the other hand, takes over an hour and a half. It's estimated that the new bike highway will take pedallers a mere 26 minutes to travel that same route.
Work began earlier this month and is scheduled to be completed and tested by the end of May. According to China Daily,
the three-lane road is also reported to have biking amenities such as a rest stop and service area. As the road is elevated, there will also be power-assisted ramps at its entrances to help cyclists get onto the lane.
On Chinese social media, netizens were generally receptive of the news. One Weibo user was all for bike-only roads, observing that cars illegally driving on bike lanes have led to riders cycling on pavements, creating hazardous conditions for both cyclists and pedestrians alike. Another bluntly remarked that if this had come sooner, Ofo’s business wouldn’t be in trouble.
With over 1.9 million shared bikes currently on Beijing's roads, can we say it’s about time? The Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport also plans to add an additional 2,200km of bicycle lanes in the city, so fingers crossed more bike-only roads will soon be in central Beijing.