Changing China

Giant on the move

“Vicious cycle” of bike thefts

June 23, 2008

A man rides a bicycle in Beijing’s central business districtChina has appealed to residents to take “green” transport ahead of the Olympics, casting the city’s pledge to provide clean air and unclogged roads as a civic “duty”.      

I used to take green transport to work, cycling a round trip of 14 miles five days a week in the cooler months, and three days a week in the summer.

And then, last week, my bike got nicked from inside the Central Academy of Fine Arts. I have lost count, but this was either the sixth or seventh bike my family has had stolen since arriving in Beijing in 2003.      

China is home to a world-record 470 million bicycles, but theft is widespread. A common topic of discussion among bike owners is the latest loss, despite chains and padlocks, either in the street or in the lobbies of high-rise apartment blocks.      

Selling stolen bicycles is big business in China, prompting buyers to turn to the second-hand market to minimise their loss should their bike be stolen.      

“In this vicious cycle, those who steal bicycles and sell them on the black market benefit while urban residents suffer,” the China Daily said in December.      

My bike was a red Giant and it got me to work in 35 minutes in peak hours, compared to sometimes double that by car. If anyone thinks they’ve seen it, I’d be grateful if you’d give me a call.

Photo by Reinhard Krause


City hall should do like in Paris. Install Velib stations everywhere.
Christian Loriau

Posted by Christian Loriau | Report as abusive

Sorry to hear about your bike being stolen, Reinhard. I can’t help you find it, but I will offer a piece of advice: Look into Dahon folding bikes. Seriously — they are fun to ride, and you never have to worry about locking them outdoors. I bought mine in Beijing 3 years ago, and am still riding it to work every day in Shanghai. I’ve even traveled with it overseas.

And because you don’t have to worry about theft, you can spend a bit more to get something that will last you a long time.


I don’t know how it works in China, but here in the US I bought a heavy chain with a Master lock and that’s what I use to protect my mountain bike when I go sightseeing. Those lock they sell in W____ and S____ suck big. They’re mostly for show, not real protection. Specially, stay away from combination locks. If all that fails you should get, like that other guy suggested, a folding bike. You can take it up the lift with you and park it right next to you.

Posted by elipicayo | Report as abusive

We did have a Dahon folding bike. A nice orange one. That got stolen too.
Nick Macfie

Posted by Nick Macfie | Report as abusive

I personally find bicycle theft in NY more prevalant than in Beijing. I remember chaining my bike outside my apartment and running in to grab a water bottle and coming out, the bike gone and the chain cut in half in less than a couple minutes.

Posted by sg | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see