Last November the Guardian reported on a vast graveyard of dockless bikes in the Chinese city of Xiamen. I’ve just come back from three weeks in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, and from what I saw in the Wenjiang district of that city, dockless bikes are alive and well. Here are some (plus a few personal bikes, each secured with a lock on one wheel and held up by a kickstand) outside a metro station. There are, I think, four companies active in that market. When I was in the same area four years ago, neither the metro station nor the dockless bikes existed – nor did many of the bike lanes now apparent. Nor, for that matter, the trees. The dockless bikes are heavily used. Bike lanes – shared with motor bikes and three-wheeled trucks, most of which seemed to run on electric power – are widespread, though not well respected by drivers and often not much use at intersections. But, somebody is setting space aside for bikes.
As for the trees – you’ll notice they’re propped up, being not fully rooted in.Where do they come from? Many of them, it seems, from tree nurseries along the road from Chengdu to Dujiangyan – mile upon mile of trees, palms, plane trees, cherries, what have you, and every so often a truck carrying a few of them somewhere.
Despite the new bikes, electric motors and trees, the air in Chengdu remains foul, presumably from coal (domestic, industrial, even catering – I bought some hot chestnuts that were sitting on a bed of coal pellets).
Dujiangyan, where the Min River comes down from the mountains onto the Chengdu plain, is the site of a 2200 year old irrigation facility, still functioning: a fantastic story of hydraulic civilization, and a beautiful site, worth a visit. You get there across this nice swaying suspension bridge.
Also spotted in Dujiangyan City – this poster:
I can’t read it, but I’m told it’s city-approved bicycle propaganda.
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