China A to Z: B is for Bicycles…and Bixi


Bicycles are, in many areas of China, an important part of the transportation system. It is fun to see the many ways people have modified or added on to bikes to get the most out of them.

Note: I include trikes as bikes. In Chinese the number of wheels isn’t part of the name: zi xing che means “self walking (moving) vehicle”.

Distances are huge, in many areas a block is half a kilometer, so walking can be impractical, both from the amount of time it takes and sore feet.


There many racks of rental bikes around town, often near bus stops and malls. There are dedicated bike/scooter lanes often separated from traffic by barriers and medians. That doesn’t always stop cars from using the bike lanes but it does help.

Rack of rental bikes.

This is a practical arrangement, combined with inexpensive cab fares it is possible to take a ride share bike to the grocery store (first half hour is free) then take a cab home with your shopping (the drop fare of ~$1 includes 3 kilometers).


I think of bixi as very Chinese and have quite a liking for them.

Bixi is a mythical beast. A super tortoise. Stone bixi are used as a base for commemorative steles. They are common at Confucius related sites and places of the old imperial worship. I didn’t see any at the Forbidden City. The places I saw them were older: Qufu (Confucius’s home town), the Confucius Temple in Beijing, Dai Miao at the base of Taishan in Tai’an, and Yishan in Weifang prefecture.


One thought on “China A to Z: B is for Bicycles…and Bixi”

  1. I had never thought that the use of bikes was a question of convenience, but yes, they have some long distances to do. The combination bike/taxi is one that I wouldn’t mind myself 😉

    Love the bixi too.


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