Beijing Cuts Bike Theft

RIDING AROUND THE STREETS of Beijing on a rented bicycle is one of my happiest memories. Beyond the charm of the hutong alleyways and the stunning array of sights, I loved the simple ease of coming and going: no helmets, no special gear and no heavy lock to carry around – just a mechanism to keep the back wheel from turning so my ride would still be there when I came out from the teashop.

According to the Guardian, China has made cycling an even more carefree experience by halving nationwide incidents of bike theft:

The country, home to a world record 460 million bicycles, has also cracked thousands of bike theft gangs, police officials told a news conference Web cast at

“We strongly smashed illegal bicycle theft activities and constrained the growth of new cases,” said Ma Weiya, vice-director of the police social security management department. (…)

The government has introduced a system of identification numbers and buyers must register their bikes using their real names as part of efforts to curb widespread theft.

Even as China’s auto industry booms with the availability of low-cost models, this crackdown comes as part of a larger effort to get China’s urban-dwellers back on bikes for the sake of air quality.
Correction: An earlier version of this post suggested that many hotels offer bicycle rentals; after further information gathering it appears the service may not be so widespread. However, Beijing Bicycle Rental Services has rental stations available all over the city – near hotels, subway stations, and business parks (CCTV, TravelMole).

Photo: Beijing Bicycles, by Keith Marshall.


4 Responses to “Beijing Cuts Bike Theft”

  1. 1 So Cal Kango Beach Girl January 26, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    I’ve considered getting one of those wheele locks for my US-based bike, but have resisted because of images of thugs in a pickup throwing my bike in the back. Do they really work? Are they effective enough, or is it only because of the lack of pickups in China?

  2. 2 Wendy January 28, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I share similar memories of the hutongs. I noticed a lot less bikes in late 2006 than there were two years earlier.
    Ditto for Shanghai. Interesting that the govt is trying to get people back on bikes.

  3. 3 dailytransit February 1, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Suz – I definitely wouldn’t recommend a simple wheel lock anywhere in the US, especially in LA. Get a U-Lock for sure, and perhaps a really thick one if you’re parking a fancy road bike downtown. Most of the bikes in Beijing that I saw were old beaters, so even thieves are probably less wont to go through any hassle to get them.

  4. 4 Vintage-bicycle Mike July 4, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Neat picture! Here where I live, I only use a simple wheel lock since I find those other locks too clumsy. And I’ve had my current bike for 13 years now. This town (in Sweden) does have plenty of bike thieves but I guess I’ve been lucky. Am also very careful with where I park my bike when going downtown.

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