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Pictures of rider’s stance go viral on Chinese social network Weibo

Social media users in China have applauded a “brave” foreign cyclist who blocked a car being driven on a segregated bike lane in capital city Beijing. 

Pictures of the cyclist engaged in his protest were posted to Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, on Saturday, reports the South China Morning Post.

Since then, they have gone viral, with the one above being shared more nearly 44,000 times.

The unknown cyclist, assumed to be an expatriate worker, is seen in the series of pictures standing in front of the black saloon car, the driver of which seemed to be trying to use it to beat one of the city’s notorious traffic jams.

The Weibo user who posted the photographs said: “Today on Yaojiayuan Road I saw this scene: a foreigner insisted on stopping cars in the bike lane from passing! Resolute attitude, I am very touched!”

Others praised the cyclist, with one saying:  “I hope more Chinese learn from this brave expat to stand out and say no to bad habits.”

One commenter expressed admiration for the cyclist, but sympathy too for the driver, saying: “The brave foreigner deserves our respect [for standing up to the bike lane driver], but the traffic on the road is to blame for the driver’s violation.”

Another queried what would have happened had the cyclist been Chinese, however, reflecting that “if it were not a laowai [foreigner], I bet he/she who stands in front of the car would be beaten up.”

Shannon Bufton, who co-founded Beijing bike advocacy group Smarter Than Car, told the South China Morning Post: “Cars are all over the bike lanes in Beijing,” adding that the city “is overrun by cars.”

While he acknowledged that some of the city’s drivers exhibited “pretty horrible” behaviour, he said “at least there’s bike lanes in the first place.”

The newspaper says that’s a common problem facing bike riders in Beijing, which now has more than 5 million cars, with ownership continuing to grow at a frenetic pace alongside China’s burgeoning economy.

Across China, more private cars were added to the country’s vehicle population in 2012 than there were in total in 1999, according to a Bloomberg report from January last year.

In 2013, it became the first country to see sales of all types of vehicles exceed 20 million, up 14 per cent on 2012.

Motoring has become a political issue, however, with many blaming the rise in vehicle ownership for smog and air pollution, as well as gridlock.

Since 2011, Beijing’s city government has limited the number of new vehicle registrations through a lottery system.

In August 2013, some 1.6 million applications were made for just 20,000 licence plates available that month – meaning the odds against securing one were 80 to 1.

In response, city authorities have attempted to encourage people back onto bikes through introducing a bike-share scheme as well as cycle lanes.

However, uptake of the former has reportedly been very disappointing compared to other Chinese cities, while as this story highlights, encroachment of motorists on the latter remains a major problem.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

19 comments

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MarcMyWords [69 posts] 2 years ago
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Well done that man.

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bikebot [2119 posts] 2 years ago
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I do like the well mannered users of the Weibo network. Are the quotes very selective, or is trolling a rarity for the Chinese?

I'm sure things will improve for the cyclists of Beijing, now that China has it's own version of Top Gear. They can recreate that cycling episode.

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adscrim [144 posts] 2 years ago
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What happened when the car further down the lane reached them?

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craigp [11 posts] 2 years ago
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How was this stand-off resolved? I notice another car coming down the lane at the top of the picture also...

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usedtobefaster [200 posts] 2 years ago
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I want to know how this ended. Mexican stand-offs don't go on forever

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Simon_MacMichael [2502 posts] 2 years ago
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Not reported how it was resolved, I'm guessing the bloke taking the pictures had moved on a bit in traffic by the time the second vehicle got there. But you can see the fence between the lane and the main carriageway can be moved, so hopefully the drivers were persuaded to move across through the gap?

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Duncann [1120 posts] 2 years ago
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Top man. But what's "a segregated bike lane"...?

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 2 years ago
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Duncann wrote:

Top man. But what's "a segregated bike lane"...?

Exactly what it shows in the second picture?

A cycle lane on the road, but segregated from the other traffic by a physical barrier.

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adamthekiwi [149 posts] 2 years ago
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@GrahamSt: that whooshing sound is the last dying gasp of your irony-o-meter. Suggest you get it looked at...

To be honest, even with cars occupying them, the cycling provisions look better, in those photos, than the UK...

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vbvb [620 posts] 2 years ago
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I think there are probably a few twitter pics like this of Edinburgh George Street's new cycle-only roadway.

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adamthekiwi [149 posts] 2 years ago
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@vbvb: so far, every time I've traveled along the new cycle paths it has been late enough that there have been no other users - all but 2 of the bollards are now gone, though, so I suspect you're right.

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DavidC [159 posts] 2 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:

Not reported how it was resolved...?

The quote mentions the rider stopped "cars", so that second one may have also been blocked for a while.
“Today on Yaojiayuan Road I saw this scene: a foreigner insisted on stopping cars in the bike lane from passing!

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Housecathst [602 posts] 2 years ago
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that cycle lane looks much better than the 30cm of shitty paint we get in this country.

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Matt eaton [741 posts] 2 years ago
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It just goes to show that segregation only works when legislation, enforcement and attitudes allign. Just chucking up a barrier/putting down paint and letting people do whatever they want won't cut it.

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Leviathan [2776 posts] 2 years ago
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Perhaps he should try this with the Chinese government not its citizens and see how he gets on.

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WolfieSmith [1382 posts] 2 years ago
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I have a national Geographic from the early 1990's showing the streets of Beijing when they were still ruled by the bicycle. Whole families on one bike. Blokes with towering cages full of ducks. Traffic jams of bicycles with no fumes... Progress eh?

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John Pitcock [13 posts] 2 years ago
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I was on a bus today that was held up by cars in a bus lane at a time it was operational. I pondered what I would have done if I was on my bike. I decided I would try to put myself just in front of a car and not let it move forwards in the bus lane.

I am reminded of a time I was cycling on a clearly signed and marked contra-flow cycle lane. A van coming the other way decided to drive in the cycle lane to overtake a queue of traffic. He stopped. I didn't give way as I was in no hurry. There was nowhere for him to go as the traffic he had overtaken wouldn't let him in, and they couldn't see why he had stopped. After a few minutes someone let him in. Another driver shouted at me that I was going the wrong way!  35

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wild man [297 posts] 2 years ago
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The locals are tougher, though- they block tanks.

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imaca [82 posts] 2 years ago
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Cycle lanes there are actually dominated by electric scooters. These are really scary because they are silent and generally have no functional lights. I know expats who cycle there but I would not be brave enough myself, the culture of road use is entirely different. The locals seem to do crazy things to get where they want to go, but I think are much more careful not to hurt anyone while doing so. For example virtually no bikes have lights. One workmate swears that after nearly being hit several times at night, he felt safer with no lights and removed them!