When it comes to pollution, China has a pretty, well, stinky global reputation. Major cities such as Beijing and Tianjin regularly have dangerous smog warnings (smog is a thick fog made from pollutants), while the Chinese city of Linfen was named the most polluted city in the world. But that's what makes this story such a welcome change.
Welcome to Xiamen, China. It is a beautiful coastal city near the island state of Taiwan. It has a gorgeous harbour, beaches, excellent weather, and low pollution. And now it has the longest elevated bike path in the world.
Let's ride the cycleway!
Though this city does have plenty of cars, motorcycles and mopeds (gas-powered scooters) have been outlawed since the 1990s. Instead, this is a city that loves its bikes. And not just for joyrides. People commute, or get to and from work, using their bicycles.
The brand new elevated bike path, or cycleway, covers around 12 kilometers (5 miles). By elevating, or raising it above the streets below, cyclists never have to worry about an accident with the cars and trucks driving through Xiamen. It's safe. And quite lovely, too.
You can get anywhere
The cycleway has a series of on and off ramps that lets cyclists reach destinations all across town. Essentially, residents in Xiamen can get to any part of the city that they like. And all without ever needing to set foot in a car. What a smart idea!
Speaking of ideas, the firm that designed it is Dissing + Weitling from Denmark. They have already designed the Cykelslangen, or Bicycle Snake, a famed bike path that runs through Copenhagen. This choice makes sense. Countries like Denmark and the Netherlands are famous for their urban bicycle culture, where bikes are more common than cars.
Two wheels to the future
Xiamen is just one city of two million people in a massive country of over one billion. But the Chinese government has already shown a few signs that it is starting to take pollution seriously (they cancelled the building of over 100 new coal factories just this past January). Will bike paths like these become the way of the future here?
It already sounds like other major cities—such as Melbourne, Australia and London, England—are looking to take steps toward making bikes a bigger part of their world. London is even considering constructing an incredible 219-kilometre (136-mile) long elevated bike path, SkyCycle!
We're certainly excited to see if Xiamen's example is the start of something special around the globe. Take a "ride" on it for yourself below!