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A practical guide to cyclists and pedestrians in Shanghai

Shanghai cyclists never wear helmets. The crowded bicycle parking lot alongside the road is a reminder of the huge population of cyclists in Shanghai.


Cycling in Shanghai

As is known to all, China is the kingdom of bicycles. Free from traffic jams and crowded buses, cycling makes a good choice for you to get around the city.

Mopeds and electric bicycles also use bike lanes, but they are more expensive than bikes.

Many streets have no bike lanes, and cycling on pavements is not wise. One-way streets can also be a problem. So before you hit the road, work out a suitable route.   

Be careful while crossing a road. Local drivers are aggressive enough to turn right regardless of pedestrians and cyclists, even if the red traffic light is on.

U-shape locks are most popular among Shanghai cyclers. A lock to one wheel will totally render a bike unmovable.

Finding a reliable lock or even several locks for your dear bike is paramount. Remember, thieves are always smarter than you are. Some bicycle lock companies even guarantee refund if bikes with their locks are stolen.

It's wise to park at bicycle parking lots, though it will cost you 0.5 to 1 yuan each time. There are usually watchers to keep an eye on the lots, keeping your bike safe from thieves.

Last but not least, the elevated roads are absolutely forbidden to bikes or pedestrians. Never try to find a shortcut above your head.



Walking is great for sightseeing, but it's easy to get lost too. Embrace the crowd. Don't expect smiles because Chinese don't often look into others' eyes and smile to each other, even though most people are very friendly to foreigners.

You will find that Shanghai is a city much more than hustle and bustle.

When you decide to go out on foot, remember to take paper and a pen along. Once you are confused by the labyrinth-like streets, which are famous for not following straight directions, you may write down your destination and ask a passer-by for help. Generally, youngsters in Shanghai can more or less speak some English.

Turning to the traffic policemen is another way when you need help. Be patient with them, for their English is not perfect, yet.

Be wary of aggressive drivers when crossing the streets. When the streets become extremely busy, to get rid of the traffic jam, drivers may even ignore the traffic lights. Even with the law on your side, you still need to be careful to avoid shocks. We do see a lot of foreigners cursing at rude cabbies and drivers who rush ahead of pedestrians to turn a corner.

Nowadays, some streets are equipped with countdown timers to tell you the time left for you to get across the street. Sometimes it is accompanied with a "beeper."

The downtown area is often crowded at weekends. Beware: thieves and frauds are always with the crowds. Keep an eye on your valuables and never bother to reply to any doubtful stranger.

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