Re-imagining the Bicycle Kingdom in Beijing

Stanford International Urbanization Seminar - Designing the Human City

Format: Headline

Team: Shannon Bufton, Joshua Grigsby, Florian Lorenz
Partner: Stanford University Program on Urban Studies

STC provided conceptual input and drafted a project description for the Bicycle Urbanism topical track of the field workshop for Stanford's International Urbanization Seminar 'Designing the Human City'. On the ground in Beijing STC guided a bicycle tour through Beijing's Hutongs as part of the fieldwork of students.


Journey map and timeline of a pizza delivery guy in Beijing. Image by: Valerie Gamao, Joyce Hujing, J.K., Yipei Shen, Elaine Zhou. Source: Bicycle Urbanism project at Designing the Human City

Re-imagining the Bicycle Kingdom in Beijing
(excerpt from project syllabus)

Providing sustainable and equitable mobility in cities is one major challenge for future urbanization, a context in which the bicycle is gaining importance and is (again) embraced as strategy to create livable cities in various places across the globe. This mobility challenge is especially pressing for Chinese urbanization and tied to urban challenges such as environmental quality or social equity. The promotion of active mobility, urban cycling especially but as well walking, holds the potential to be an urban catalyst towards more active, livable and healthy cities in China and elsewhere.

Over the recent years Smarter Than Car (STC) has been researching Beijing’s unique bicycle cultures in their current state and historical development. During this process our focus also encompassed the economical use of pedal-powered vehicles and their importance for urban life. Our understanding of Beijing’s history as the “Bicycle Kingdom” led us to developing the concept of Bicycle Urbanism to be understood as an urban condition where the main form of transportation is pedal-powered and urban form catering for fine-grain mobility solutions.

In our collaboration with Stanford University’s Program on Urban Studies we want to propose a two-fold topical track as departure point for the project: (I) Bicycle Livelihoods, and, (II) Bicycle urbanism.

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