Body & Sports

Cycling in Xiamen

Updated: 2007-05-07
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Biking as a sport is becoming popular in Xiamen. And the variety of push bikes sold in the shops is getting less monotonous. Some name brands such as Giant have their manufacturing bases in China and some even in Xiamen. Mountain bikes, road racers, BMX ect are available in the shops at very affordable prices. However, apart from cycling as a sport, push bikes are commonly used in Xiamen as a form of transport.


The bicycle in Xiamen is a stereotype.  In Xiamen, hordes of workers use them for commuting and as part of their job.  It is not surprising to see a mountain of boxes, cages, or bundles moving down the street on two wheels, the rider somewhere inside.



Below is an account of a expat resident cyclist


But first a word about Xiamen traffic, if you haven’t seen traffic in an oriental city, you have to know that it is nothing like its western counterpart.  Sure, we (I am a Xiamenite now) have paved streets, curbs, and lines on the road, but that won’t stop the odd taxi from hopping onto the sidewalk to pass a bunch of cars, or a minivan running a red light in broad daylight in full view of hundreds because, well, nobody’s in the intersection anyway, except the odd pedestrian, but they don’t count.   


To the uninitiated westerner, it can be frustrating and stressful to see nobody following lanes, nobody shoulder-checking when they swerve and turn, and the most terrifying left-turns into oncoming traffic imaginable.  It took me a while to figure out a philosophy for this mayhem, but I knew there must be one.  Because of social Darwinism, it must somehow have evolved to be efficient.   


I finally hit on the metaphor of water flowing.  Imagine that vehicles are molecules of water flowing under the force of gravity, and that pretty well explains everything that happens on Xiamen streets.  This even pertains to taking responsibility for the inevitable accidents that occur.  Water molecules do not wait around to accept blame and neither do my comrade citizens.   



Bicycle Shops and Repairs



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