We all know what the usual photographs of Chinese metropolises look like. Everybody is wearing surgical masks, desperately trying to protect themselves from the omnipresent smog, with a few metres of visibility at best. That is not the case of Xiamen, though. The tourist-friendly town with sandy beaches and historical architecture has tried a different approach to commerce, and it seems to be paying off.
While you can still find cars in the city today, motorcycles and mopeds were outlawed in the city altogether in the 1990s in pursuit of cleaner air. As a result, many residents in the area started to rely on bicycles, and the local officials have been taking advantage of that ever since. That is why the longest suspended bike path in the world was opened in Xiamen last year.
The 7.6-kilometre-long track sits five metres above the main road. It connects all of the city’s major residential and business districts and the commuters have direct access to 11 bus stations and 2 subway stops. The cycling lane is 15 feet wide, open from 6:30 AM till 10:30 PM and can handle over 2,000 bikes per hour. There are several stations with for-hire bikes as well as bike service stations and ample room for parking.
The cycleway was designed by Danish architecture firm Dissing + Weitling, famous for the Bicycle Snake built in Copenhagen. And while the Cykelslangen took several years to complete, the project in Xiamen was finished in just a few months. It seems that the Chinese in Xiamen really know what they want.