People in Beijing massively switched to using 2-wheelers to move around, the image of the “bicycle kingdom” was recreated.
Bicycle traffic in China’s capital spiked after authorities ordered most of the subway system to halt operations, to prevent the epidemic. In the current context, a lot of office workers use bicycles to move around the city.
Beijing’s eastern roads this week recreated scenes from three to four decades ago – when cars were not yet commonplace in China. The resurgence of the image of the “bicycle kingdom” took place after the subway stopped operating and buses did not stop at the stations to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Office workers, who commute to work in the southeast area of Beijing, where most train stations are closed, have taken advantage of the station area to park bicycles. Bicycle rental services – often used by tourists or locals “for fun”, are now being expanded by major internet companies such as Didi and Meituan.
The scene in Beijing, as well as Shanghai with its empty streets, is one of the signs of how much the zero Covid policy is changing China’s major cities. Deserted roads, isolation fences and medical staff with protective gear are “symbols” of supply chain disruptions and the zero Covid campaign that decelerates economic growth.
Data collected by bike rental companies shows that traffic spiked during peak hours on May 5 – the first day workers returned to work after the 5th holiday. day. During this time, the Beijing city government tightened restrictions, encouraged people to work from home and partially closed the public transport system.
China News Service reported that in Chaoyang district – where more than 500 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded, bicycle traffic increased by nearly 70% on Thursday morning. The news agency cited figures from Hello-inc.com, a company that rents bicycles and e-bikes through the Alipay app.
Bicycle parking lot in Beijing in 1965.
Long before China rose to power, becoming the world’s second-largest economy and overtaking the United States as the largest auto market, the country’s streets were dominated by bicycles. During the second half of the 20th century, the dominance of this vehicle was the reason many people called China the “bicycle kingdom”. At that time, this type of two-wheeler was one of the essentials for newlyweds, just like houses and cars are today for the middle class in China.
In the financial hub of Shanghai, where lockdown measures have been somewhat eased, bicycles are the only transportation option available to those allowed to leave their homes. Personal cars are still not allowed to circulate without a permit issued by the city government. Meanwhile, subways and buses are still temporarily closed.
Immediately after the Beijing city government announced the temporary closure of a series of subway stations earlier this week, netizens began posting black and white photos from decades ago of many people riding. bike on the street. They joked that it was the image of the people of Beijing after the Labor Day holiday ended. For many, that “forecast” has come true.
Refer to Bloomberg
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