Cycle China: Week 2

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September 12, 2011

In this special five-part series, we're riding along with SWA Group landscape designer Amirah Shahid as she cycles nearly 800 miles from Beijing to Shanghai. Join us as she tells about her journey and files exclusive photos from the road in an attempt to better understand China's urban and rural biking culture. Week Two: On the road...

 

San Francisco-based landscape designer Amirah Shahid is a third of her way through her ride from Beijing and Shanghai. (Read our interview with Shahid as she was packing for the trip.) She's found local bike stores promoting cycling events and races, fast food restaurant parking lots turned into mass informal bike parking, fresh-water springs at which to refill bottles, and more. Click through to see her photos and read her notes from the road.

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  Packing lightly was key, as everything Shahid brought with her has to be carried and stowed on her bike. Here's what's in her two panniers and handlebar bag, including three changes of clothes that she washes in her hotel sinks. "I'm regretting the decision to bring a winter hat and extra wool layers," she says. "It seems unlikely I'll need them."  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    Packing lightly was key, as everything Shahid brought with her has to be carried and stowed on her bike. Here's what's in her two panniers and handlebar bag, including three changes of clothes that she washes in her hotel sinks. "I'm regretting the decision to bring a winter hat and extra wool layers," she says. "It seems unlikely I'll need them."

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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  Upon landing in Beijing on a hazy afternoon, Shahid headed over to AECOM's office to meet designers living in the city. On the streets, "bikes, pedestrians, and cars share a separated lane," she notes. Why the car, we're not sure.  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    Upon landing in Beijing on a hazy afternoon, Shahid headed over to AECOM's office to meet designers living in the city. On the streets, "bikes, pedestrians, and cars share a separated lane," she notes. Why the car, we're not sure.

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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  This graphic poster advertises an event put on by a local Beijing bike store. "The shop organizes cycling events and races to catalyze a culture centered on bikes," Shahid says.  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    This graphic poster advertises an event put on by a local Beijing bike store. "The shop organizes cycling events and races to catalyze a culture centered on bikes," Shahid says.

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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  "A tree-lined, low-traffic road on the way out of Beijing was a nice break from the traffic-dodging I had to do in order to get there," she says. The newly constructed train station in the background connects bike commuters to the city via the parklike environment that follows the river.  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    "A tree-lined, low-traffic road on the way out of Beijing was a nice break from the traffic-dodging I had to do in order to get there," she says. The newly constructed train station in the background connects bike commuters to the city via the parklike environment that follows the river.

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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  Before beginning her adventure, Shahid met with current landscape architecture graduate students at Beijing's Tsinghua University. There, as well as at the city's Peking University (a scene from which is pictured here), bikes are ubiquitous as "cycling is the primary mode of transportation for students living on campus," Shahid says.  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    Before beginning her adventure, Shahid met with current landscape architecture graduate students at Beijing's Tsinghua University. There, as well as at the city's Peking University (a scene from which is pictured here), bikes are ubiquitous as "cycling is the primary mode of transportation for students living on campus," Shahid says.

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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  After touring Beijing, she headed toward Hebei Province. "The wide shoulder and fruit stand were welcome sights," Shahid says.  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    After touring Beijing, she headed toward Hebei Province. "The wide shoulder and fruit stand were welcome sights," Shahid says.

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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  At an intersection in Langfang, Shahid spotted this child hiding his head on the back of a bike.  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    At an intersection in Langfang, Shahid spotted this child hiding his head on the back of a bike.

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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  The first thing she noticed upon reaching Tianjin was this Ferris wheel. "I biked in and immediately thought, 'I have to ride that,'" she says. Shahid also laughed at its shape, which so closely resembles that of her bike wheels.  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    The first thing she noticed upon reaching Tianjin was this Ferris wheel. "I biked in and immediately thought, 'I have to ride that,'" she says. Shahid also laughed at its shape, which so closely resembles that of her bike wheels.

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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  "The landscape architect in me appreciated the openness of this simple hardscaped plaza breaking up the continuity of high-rises and construction sites in Tianjin," Shahid says.  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    "The landscape architect in me appreciated the openness of this simple hardscaped plaza breaking up the continuity of high-rises and construction sites in Tianjin," Shahid says.

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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  Pictured here, cars, bikes, and pedestrians sharing highway lanes in Tianjin.  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    Pictured here, cars, bikes, and pedestrians sharing highway lanes in Tianjin.

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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  This peaceful photo shows the agricultural fabric of Hebei Province, Shahid says.  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    This peaceful photo shows the agricultural fabric of Hebei Province, Shahid says.

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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  "The McDonald's in Cangzhou became a large, informal bike-parking lot on Saturday night," she says. "Either the burgers are amazing or people notice that it's one of the few larger, paved spaced in the downtown area."  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    "The McDonald's in Cangzhou became a large, informal bike-parking lot on Saturday night," she says. "Either the burgers are amazing or people notice that it's one of the few larger, paved spaced in the downtown area."

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

  • 
  Arriving in Dezhou, Shahid found a local bike shop and an owner standing at the ready with a syringe of bike lube. "I stopped in front of the store to check my map," she says. "Within second, without asking any questions or saying a word, the owner was all over my bike, greasing up its chain."  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    Arriving in Dezhou, Shahid found a local bike shop and an owner standing at the ready with a syringe of bike lube. "I stopped in front of the store to check my map," she says. "Within second, without asking any questions or saying a word, the owner was all over my bike, greasing up its chain."

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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  Shahid snapped this shot at the Baotu Spring Park in Jinan, which features several natural springs. "Visitors are invited to drink the water, fresh from the springs," she reports.  Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    Shahid snapped this shot at the Baotu Spring Park in Jinan, which features several natural springs. "Visitors are invited to drink the water, fresh from the springs," she reports.

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

  • 
  To close out this week's report from the road, Shahid sent this image of Jinan's canal at night, which "brought a sense of peace and quiet after a long, hard day of cycling." Check back soon for another slideshow from Shahid as she bikes from Beijing to Shanghai.Click here to read part one of the series.
Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our  FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!   Photo by: Amirah Shahid
    To close out this week's report from the road, Shahid sent this image of Jinan's canal at night, which "brought a sense of peace and quiet after a long, hard day of cycling." Check back soon for another slideshow from Shahid as she bikes from Beijing to Shanghai.

    Click here to read part one of the series.

    Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

    Photo by: Amirah Shahid

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