News - October 6, 2010

Bicycle Kingdom


In the early 1980s, when China was stepping back onto the world stage, marvelous bicycle flowing on the Chang’an Avenue during the rush hour was recorded by foreign cameras. And China got a laudatory title: ‘bicycle kingdom’.

But nowadays in China, people's enthusiasm for bicycles has been waning. Only one fifth of the people choose cycling as their transportation. Expanding cities, increasing numbers of private cars and public transportation account for this. I have been in this country for one year and am deeply impressed by the large numbers of bicycles and different bicycle atmosphere here.
Black, step-through frame, large wheel, coaster brake, bicycle light and a bag on the back seat: this is what a classic Dutch bicycle looks like. Not good-looking but quite impressive. I was told a curious fact that there are even more bicycles than inhabitants. Money and time is saved by cycling for short journeys like going to school or work. People get used to taking a bicycle with them even when travelling by car or train.
Cycling is also an important leisure activity. Early this summer, I had a cycling tour to Arnhem and found this was truly a bicycle-friendly country: red tar-paved cycle lanes; clear signposts; cyclists getting higher priority than the cars at junctions - which is rare in other countries; nice landscapes like the Rhine river, flowering fields, a historical castle. All of these made the journey safe and enjoyable. Also we came across groups of cyclists - some of them aged - on racing bicycles, in tights and other gear, looking rather professional and sporty.
The bicycle is a necessity, as important as a roof over our heads. Wageningen is small, but you can't live without this two-wheel treasure, which will bring you convenience and the joy of riding besides the sea, among the bulb fi elds, and through villages./Sun Yanyan, Animal Breeding and Genetics Group