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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Goods by Bicycle in China

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SHANGHAI — Despite dramatic decreases in the number of cyclists in Chinese cities over the past 15 to 20 years, transport of goods and products, informal collection of recycling, deliveries and use of bicycles for retail and selling is still very common.

I’ve uploaded a photo gallery (Flickr set) of some of this activity easily seen in Shanghai. While Shanghai is in many other ways a very modern and advanced city, the continuing use of bicycles for so many purposes seems directly related to the presence of so many people willing (or forced) to work for extremely low fees, for which the bicycle remains by far the cheapest and indeed the only affordable means of transportation. Especially over short delivery distances, it would seem to many Chinese almost wasteful to use a truck.


One of the few official agencies still using bicycles is China Post, whose beautiful green delivery bicycles (complete with panniers) can frequently be seen parked in front of buildings.


Originally posted at



  1. I used to have a ‘Flying Pigeon’ when I was in China for a summer course. Anyone know someone in Toronto selling them? There are a few outfits in NY and LA who are.

  2. jamesmallon,

    I’d love to get one too if it is available. Good utilitarian bikes are insanely expensive in this town.

  3. I’ve been told that both Flying Pigeon and Phoenix (another old Chinese bicycle brand) have been sold to companies who now produce typical (though I’m advised ‘poor quality’) mountain bikes under those brands… if you can get your hands on one of the real old pattern Flying Pigeons or a Phoenix, hold on to it!

  4. Cycling is a great way to explore at a reasonable pace. You make discoveries about your neighborhood every time you ride. You see the birds, the flowers and the trees. Plan your outdoor activity and let the fun begin!