Shanghai FAQ

If you are considering purchasing and riding a bike in China, then this ‘Rider’s FAQ’ should be something that you read.  Thanks to the bike popularity over the last decade, more and more people are riding bikes; especially in China. A quick Google search, and anyone is able to see that bike sales have almost doubled in China in the last 3 years. This means that there are more bikes on the road than ever before, and may be time for you to read a quick recap about riding in China.

What do I need to ride a bike in Shanghai?

Obviously you will need a bike.  There are no restrictions to types and sizes of bikes – as most of you have probably seen. Riding a bike in Shanghai does not require a license, but does require some skill.  It would be foolish to think you can jump right into riding through the Chinese traffic; but the learning curve is steep so sooner than later you will be on the road with the rest of us.

Does my bike need a license?

No, it does not. Typically your bike should have 2 – 3 ID numbers stamped into the metal frame of your bike.  These ID numbers can usually be found on the bottom of your bike frame, and after purchasing your bike most dealers will issue you a certificate of purchase that includes these ID numbers.  The only reason you would ever use these numbers or certificate is incase someone steals your bike; it’s an easy way to try and track it down.  It is illegal to not have ID numbers on your bike, but to my knowledge no one checks for them.

Do I have to pay tax for owning a bike?

No, you don’t. 6 years back it was required to pay something like 10 RMB a year for your bike, and you would be issued a small tag to toss on your key ring.  But as of 2006 or 2007, they cancelled this tax because it was costing more to employ officials to actually stop you on your bike and ask if you had payed.  So, no more bike tax.

Am I required to wear a helmet when riding a bike in Shanghai?

Of course not.  Unlike many other parts of the world, there are no laws associated with helmets and bike riding in China.  That does not mean that it is a good idea to ride without a helmet, it just means that you won’t get stopped if you don’t have one on your head.

Where can I park my bike in Shanghai?

Quite honestly, anywhere. Throughout cities there are many places that have railings, light posts, and other objects that you can lock your bike to.  Unless otherwise specifically posted, you can park your bike anywhere.  From time to time you will come across ‘bike parking lots’ that you must pay an attendant 1 or 2 RMB to lock your bike up. It’s good to keep the ‘fapiaos’ from these guys – they act as insurance if your bike is stolen under their watch. Usually a fapiao worth 50 cents insures you up to 500RMB – so if you’ve got an expensive bike load up.

How do the traffic lights work in Shanghai when I am riding my bike?

This topic seems to cause a lot of confusion.  Obviously, you should follow the traffic lights for your own safety : red means stop, and green means go.  However, there is no specific law that states you must follow the traffic lights when you are riding your bike. At some major intersections there are specific lights for bikes, just like there are specific lights for pedestrians.  A major problem that most bike rider’s have is that cars are allowed to make a right turn on a red light.  The cars should be yielding to bikes and pedestrians, but after a quick ride through the city you will realize that this isn’t the case.  Just use your common sense, and be aware at all times.