Bicycle Urbanism Team Update

This post is by Valerie Gamao, Joyce Hujing, J.K., Yipei Shen, Elaine Zhou

Our group is Bicycle Urbanism and Livelihoods. We’re Elaine, Valerie, Yipei, Joyce, and JK. We hail from different states in the US and provinces in China, and three different majors (earth systems, interaction design, and computer science).


Our first day, we brainstormed a variety of questions on urban bicycling and bicycle livelihoods. We used the mind-mapping method to collect all of our questions into four categories: the individual, bicycle, environment, and society. From the brainstorming session, we realized we had so many unanswered questions, even as to “what is a bike?” or what kind of bicycles are relevant to Beijing. Thus, we launched right into our first field study, to get a sense of types of bikes, how and why people bike in this city. We decided to observe the bicycle scene close to our home base: Wudaokou and the Tsinghua East Gate. Our methodology included counting for 6 minutes and informal interviews.

At each site, we recorded 6 minutes of time-lapse footage and counter the number of bikers passing by, as categorized by the types of bike (mechanical, electric, or electric scooter). At Wudoukou, we found 28 mechanical bikes, 9 electric bikes, and 25 scooters. There were many more cars and didn’t seem to be a clear preference for bicycle type. However, it was evident that different bikes were favored by particular demographics — younger people for electric bikes and scooters, versus older folks for mechanical bikes. At the East Gate however, we found 113 mechanical bikes, 11 electric bikes, and 19 electric scooters. With the focus narrowed down to a student demographic on a university campus, the preference for mechanical bikes is very clear.

We also conducted informal interviews around the Wudaokou metro station and the east gate of Tsinghua University. We developed 6 basic questions to find out about their employment, their former and intended destination, their bike preferences, the regularity of their bike use, and their method of obtaining and discarding a bike.

In total, we interviewed 7 people and here are some of the information we gathered from both responses and field observations:

1. Biking is very social. We noticed many people carry a passenger on their bike.
2. Most choose to bike for health-related reasons. For instance, an old man we interviewed has trouble walking so he saw the physical activity as an easier way for him to run errands.
3. Convenience is the biggest factor in deciding which type of bike, mechanical or electrical, to buy. We learned that electric scooters and mechanical bikes overlap in price range, so choice is not due to cost.
4. Most people bike close distances which is about 1-3 km.
5. There are many old and unused bikes parked along the sidewalks.


Beijing risks losing a lively, thriving, and unique bicycle culture to the takeover of automobiles, which adversely affects air quality, noise pollution, and inactive lifestyles. Beijing’s bicycle culture is one to be admired, and we want to discover what factors initiatives or structures can be used in other cities, and what the city can do to promote such actions as well.

For most of the developed world though, it’s not common to see bicycles next to shiny skyscrapers and windy highways filled with automobiles. Here in Beijing, bicycles continue to play an integral part in maintaining and contributing to the hum of the city. Businesses are built on bicycles (food delivery, fast food, packages, phone services) and services depend on bicycles, especially in harder-to-reach areas (recycling, maintenance). The diversity of bike users in Beijing is astonishing. Everyone uses some sort of bicycle to get around. They range from youth to senior (we interviewed a 82 year old!), from really poor to really rich people, from leisure bikers to lifestyle bikers to those who bike for a living.


After having multiple brainstorm sessions and reading a materials from our partner STC, we decided to narrow our focus to the topic of of bicycle livelihood. We wanted to focus our research on people who use their bicycle to generate income and provide services and goods to other people because we found their prevalence to be unique to the city of Beijing. We broadened our definition from bicycle (two wheels) to include tricycles and wagons, since we noticed so much of bicycle livelihood happens on vehicles with more than two wheels. Additionally, we look forward to meeting with Shannon Bufton, the co-founder of Smarter than Car, this coming Monday and to ask him for guidance on how our group can contribute to her organization’s research despite the small time frame. This weekend, our group looked into STC’s past publications to familiarize ourselves with their findings about bicycle livelihoods.

Upcoming Schedule:

SAT & SUN: reading research & findings, looking at publications
MON: interview w/ Shannon in the morning, afternoon fieldwork
TUE: afternoon fieldwork
WED: afternoon fieldwork
THURS: prepare paper & presentation

大家好!我们是Elaine Zhou(斯坦福大学计算机专业),Valerie Gamao(斯坦福大学地球系统专业),沈易培(清华大学美术学院交互设计专业),胡静(清华大学美术学院交互设计专业),贾琨(清华大学美术学院交互设计专业)。我们来自不同的国家和地区,共同组成了这样一个多学科背景的小组。






– 自行车表达了社会关系。我们注意到很多人都在后座搭载着自己的朋友或亲人。
– 很多人认为骑自行车可以锻炼身体保持健康。例如,我们采访了一位患有膝盖疾病的82岁老人,由于走路更加容易对膝盖造成损伤,所以他选择骑行自行来帮助他处理生活琐事。
– 便利性是消费者购买自行车时最重要的考虑因素,这决定了他们会购买何种类型的自行车。同时我们了解到,电动摩托车和人力自行车其实有较大的售价重叠空间(500元~2000元),所以购买自行车的花费并不是影响消费者购买选择的主要因素。
– 大多数自行车使用者的活动范围半径为1至3公里。
– 在交通换乘点(如地铁站)的人行道周边,堆置了很多老旧的或废弃的自行车,并没有得到很好的处置。



对于大多数发达国家,虽然,那是不是经常可以看到自行车旁边闪亮的摩天大楼和多风公路充满了汽车。在北京,自行车继续保持和促进城市的嗡嗡声中发挥不可或缺的一部分。企业是建立在自行车(食品配送,快餐,套餐,电话服务)和服务都依赖于自行车,尤其是在难以到达的区域(回收,维修)。自行车用户在北京的多样性是惊人的。每个人都使用某种形式的自行车来解决。它们的范围从青少年到高级(我们采访A 82岁!),从真可怜,真正有钱的人,从休闲车友生活方式自行车那些谁的自行车为生。


在多次脑力激荡会议,并阅读了我们的合作伙伴Smarter than Car (STC)的材料之后,我们决定收敛研究重点,主要关注自行车营生之道。我们希望把我们的对谁用自己的自行车以产生收入,提供服务和商品的其他人,因为我们发现了他们的患病率是唯一的北京市人研究。我们扩大了我们的自行车定义(两轮),包括三轮车和马车,因为我们看到了这么多的自行车生活发生在车辆超过两个轮子。此外,我们期待着与香Bufton,比汽车更聪明的创始人之一,下星期一开会,并问她关于如何我们的团队可以尽管小的时间框架促进了组织的研究指导。这个周末,我们的小组调查了STC的过去出版物熟悉一下他们对自行车的生计发现。


– 本周末:阅读Smarter than Car的相关文献,进行桌面研究。
– 下周一:上午听取Smarter than Car联合创始人Shannon Bufton的报告,下午前往雍和宫社区进行自行车探访。
– 下周二:下午进行实地调研。
– 下周三:下午进行实地调研。
– 下周四:论文撰写及汇报材料准备。