Bicycles now offer a new form of urban identity
The percentage of cyclists in Beijing fell from 63% in 1986 to only 13.9% in 2013 according to Beijing Transportation Research Center. In recent years, bikes have become a symbol of poverty to some. For many analysts, it seems as though the bicycle can no longer compete with a rapidly expanding market for private cars which, more than being a means of transportation, have now become a symbol of social status.
According to Caixin Online, however, this trend may shift soon as the bike has gained a renewed interest among trendy young members of China’s urban middle-class, especially in the cities of Beijing, Chengdu and Hong Kong. This demographic is also motivated by increasing concerns about the future of their cities. In the capital, shops like Natooke, which is associated with various environmental NGOs, and Bamboo Bicycle Beijing recently emerged to offer more modern and fashionable cycling options. During workshops that assemble a community of socially-conscious city dwellers, the latter provide tutorials on how to create and build individual bikes that express a unique and novel form of urban identity.