I think there must be a velodrome somewhere in the city, but having just arrived I can't say for sure. As for living arrangements, you'll need to decide if you want to live in Puxi (West of the river) or Pudong (East of the river). Pudong is probably more bike friendly, having been built much more recently (I live and workin Puxi). That said, if you're living in Pudong and working in Puxi, you will not easily be able to use your bike to commute -- bikes are forbidden on the bridges, and you'll have to take a ferry across. My guess is that any velodrome would likely be in Pudong, just because there's a lot more space there.
Rents in Pudong are generally lower than rents in Puxi, so that's also something you may want to keep in mind.
Yes, the air is polluted, but I'm not sure how much better it's going to be on the city's outskirts -- plus, you have to factor in the inconvenience of living far away from the city centre. A lot of it depends on what you plan to do here. If you're working, I'd recommend looking for a place in the general vicinity of your place of work.
You can ride on the road in the city (I do a short commute to work every day), but it's nerve-racking, and there aren't many opportunities to go quickly without dying. Many roads ban bicycles, making navigation annoying. Cycling is better in Pudong, as there are more and wider bike lanes, and less traffic. Unfortunately, there's not much to see out there. Last weekend, I rode out to a bike shop in Pudong and back, about 20 miles -- but it would be easy to extend that since the roads just keep going. A ferry across the river to Pudong costs RMB1.30 (20 Australian cents) if you have a bike.
For a more interesting ride, I know people head over to Hangzhou, two hours away by train. It's a very pretty place, and seemed quite bike-friendly when I visited. I intend to go back with my bike at some point in the next few months.
I ride a folder, which makes pretty much everything more convenient (travelling on trains with normal bikes can be difficult). All the same, I'm looking to supplement it with a cross bike as soon as I can afford it!
thanks for your quick response. Sounds like commuting is a hassle, but weekend rides are accessible?
I do both road and MTB riding - some of the open areas look pretty amazing, but is there much of a MTB culture there that you've seen?
In terms of riding on the roads would you say that it gets safer the farther you get from the city? And do you find drivers are courteous or do they see cyclists as a hassle or a target?
Do you know if there is any racing in Shanghai? I have seen a tour of china etc so I suppose there must be?
How are you finding the ability to communicate? Or are you a Mandarin speaker? My partner and I are a bit nervous that we will be on a crash course in Mandarin just to get by! Once again I greatly thank you for your thoughts thus far, it does make a difference feeling like we aren't going into the unknown!
Commuting is entirely doable, but you need to deal with crazy traffic and lots of motor-scooters sharing the bike lane.
I can't comment on the MTB culture, since I've only been here for two months and haven't yet had time to explore. Those Web sites I posted above would probably be a good place to start: I think the Bohdi MTB club is mostly run by foreigners.
Driving is terrible everywhere. In some of the newer areas the roads are wider, so you aren't fighting as closely with traffic as in the older, narrow-street areas. Drivers are not courteous (they rarely yield for anyone or anything), but at least they are used to being on the same road as bicycles. I think it would be accurate to say that the problem is not outright aggressiveness (though you see that occasionally) so much as complete inattention on the part of both drivers and cyclists.
In my experience, the more you ride, the more familiar you get with traffic patterns and unwritten rules of the road. So I would definitely not recommend against riding in the city, but you should be aware that it might be challenging at first.
Not sure about racing, but I know there are some road bike clubs -- again, the Web sites above would be a good place to start.
I can speak Mandarin, which makes life a lot easier. However, Shanghai is the most foreigner-friendly city in China, and the level of spoken English is much higher than, say, Beijing, where I used to live. There are foreigners in Shanghai who never bother to learn any Chinese, and still manage to get by. I would recommend against this, though -- in my opinion, learning a bit of Mandarin is well worth the effort. It's a difficult language to learn, but that makes it even more exciting when you can have a basic conversation!
Good luck, and let me know if you have any other questions.
Another suggestion: buy a good lock. Same as some other big city in the world, here are also some thieves and they can make your bike disappear in 10 secs I've lost 3 bicycles in 5years. You'd better use a code lock.
I'd agree with ypc260, but only to a point: In my experience, Chinese bike thieves are deterred by locks that would make the thieves I dealt with in Toronto laugh. The lock I use cost me less than USD20, and it's stronger than anything else I've seen here. Most cyclists also don't bother to lock their bicycles to things, preferring to simply slip a lock through the front or rear wheel and leave it at that. A Kryptonite New York Fuggedaboudit or equivalent would almost certainly be overkill.
I've discovered, a few months on, that I didn't give Shanghai enough credit... I've discovered a new route for commuting that doesn't see much traffic, and have found more opportunities for longer road rides. A few weeks ago, I did a 95km ride out to the Pudong international airport and back, and some of the roads were simply fantastic: very little traffic, newly paved, and long sections without any traffic lights (also had a huge tailwind on the way back ).
It is completely flat, so if you're looking for hills you will still have to look elsewhere. Overall, however, the cycling here is much better than I originally thought.
I have found a great cycling club called the flying hairy legs they do heaps of riding and most of their rides start on the Pudong side near Centennial(?) Park. Overall really nice guys and I have been in touch with quite a few of them.
THey seem quite strong and the riding should be fast!
I can't wait to go over and get riding - let me know if you want me to attach their website etc
This list got too long: several ‘bents, an urban utility bike, and a dahon D7 that my daughter has absconded with.
I see that some of you are making reference to taking your bikes on the trains. What are you doing to insure that your bike arrives at the same time and place as you do? I have been told that if I check my bike when I arrive to take the train that it will arrive anywhere from two days to a week after I do. This, of course, makes the bike unusable as a last mile solution when traveling.
(On that note, can anyone tell me the reason that China is trying to get people to forgo the use of bicycles and abandon them for petrol powered units? I have opinions but no real knowledge.)
The reason for my question, regarding bikes on trains, is that I would like to do some touring this summer. What I would like to do is the take the bike on the train and ride around the destination area and then continue to the next destination by bike or by train as it suits me. However, the problem of not knowing when my bike will arrive may make this impractical. I am considering purchasing a bike in the destination cities and then abandoning it as I move on, this just seems wasteful. Has anyone tried touring China using a combination of bike and rail? If so, how did you insure that your and the bike were able to meet up?