China must have been built on bikes Pt 1: Hong Kong

During a trip two weeks ago to Hong Kong and China I took some snaps of the kinds of bikes and the way they are used. I'll start off with some pics of bikes in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is an extremely dense city, the best way to describe Hong Kong island is that it's a miniscule patch of land stuck inbetween steep mountains on one side and the sea on the other. Space is really a premium and most people get around by the excellent MTR metro system as well as buses; such demand for space tends to force development upwards first before spreading outwards - it's history shows continuous reclaimation of the harbour to gain more land which leads to an ever moving shoreline.

Rates of cycling in Hong Kong are dismally low as transport on the island, however what I found fascinating is how the bicycle still plays a vital role in Hong Kong's favourite pastimes; eating and shopping.

At traditional wet markets like the one at Bowrington Road you can see plenty of old butcher bikes and cargo bikes which are used to carry freshly slaughtered chickens, fish, vegetables and other produce to restaurants every day.  There are delivery vans and trucks for larger loads, but for smaller deliveries bicycles are faster in the cramped and congested streets of Hong Kong.

Throughout the whole time I was there I nary saw a bike rack, most delivery bikes would just be parked right on the street whilst the delivery was being made - the delivery guy would just hop off and prop the kickstand right on the side of the road.

The vast majority of delivery bikes I saw looked to be Phoenix brand single speed roadsters from China typically with a huge tubular steel front parcel rack which was connected to the double top tube - this separates it from the steering and makes it steer more lightly when loaded up.
The other type I saw was the small front wheel style cargo bikes, quite often these were used to make gas deliveries, they had these specially made rear racks which had little shelves on them so you could have a CNG cylinder on each side as well as one in the front.  Some of these were Phoenix brand but according to some of these are English made Pashleys!  Pretty cool to see utilitarian working bikes still in use and it makes total sense seeing that Hong Kong used to be a British colony.

Not sure what this guy is carrying, but probably fresh produce and a shitload of it.  Who says you can't carry much stuff on a bike eh?

This bike is from Lantau Island which is the largest island in the Hong Kong area, most well known for the airport.  It's quite a contrast to the main metropolitan part of Hong Kong, it felt more like a little fishing village.  There are plenty of little winding alleyways studded with restaurants and markets.  The prime mode of transportation is by bike.  I spotted this little number with a ghetto front basket made from a former drum of oil or something.

There is a handful of commuting cyclists and a few recreational ones as well, most were just older MTBs used to run around the city.  I did happen to see one guy in lycra in full Cervelo test team kit, but this was pretty damn rare.  That's all for now, next is Shanghai and other parts of China.


  1. Hi

    Great read. Just a heads-up but a couple of the photos are not displaying.