Although Beijing’s flat landscape and wide bike lanes make biking very easy and fun, unfortunately, in the hot summer months biking is something only done when absolutely necessary.
But don’t give up on your bike just yet! Spend some time exploring one of my favorite places to go biking: along the leafy streets around Ritan Park. Off the main drag and lined with embassies, the streets here have fewer cars and a shaded canopy of trees. As you can see in the birds-eye-view map below, there is almost as much green outside of Ritan Park as there is inside. The next not-so-polluted day you have nothing planned, go for a bike ride and finish with a picnic in the park.
If I decide to bike before lunch, I usually stop by the Jenny Lou’s that’s within spitting range from the park area to pick up picnic food. For an afternoon bike ride, I like to go to Xi He Ya Ju, a Chinese restaurant in a pretty outdoor courtyard, for sit-down lunch before getting on my bike.
When I went biking around Ritan Park last Saturday, I was reminded again of how quiet it is. Most of the streets are just a turn away from a one-lane road that makes you forget that you are in a huge city. The crickets chirping in the background and the occasional Chinese guard are the only things that remind me I am in Beijing!
I like to systematically go up and down each street, but you can bike around any way you like. Just make sure your final stop is Ritan Park for a picnic lunch!
No bikes are allowed inside the park, but as you may remember from this article, there is plenty to do between the playgrounds, fishing, merry-go-rounds, and shaded pathways.
Jenny Lou’s婕妮璐芳草地店 (Ritan location): Daily 8am-10pm. 4 Ritan Beilu, Chaoyang District (010 8563 0626) 市朝阳区日坛北路4号
Xi He Ya Ju羲和雅居: Daily 11am-2pm, 5-10pm. Ritan Park and Yabao Lu日坛公园雅宝路Northeast corner of Ritan Park, Chaoyang District朝阳区日坛公园东北角
Ritan Park 日坛公园: Daily 6am-10pm (summer), Daily 6am-9pm (winter). 6 Ritan Beilu, Chaoyang District 朝阳区日坛北路6号
Photo: Leah Sprague; Map: Baidu (modified)
Leah Sprague is a high school senior and beijingkids’ intern for July. After living in Seattle for two years, Leah is super excited to be back in Beijing, where she lived from 2009-2012. When not at the office, Leah can be found biking or subway-ing around the city, soaking up everything before she leaves again in August.