Cyclists bare bodies for green cause

Updated: 2011-09-23 07:58

By Yang Yijun (China Daily)

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Cyclists bare bodies for green cause
Cyclists ride in a campaign for low-carbon transport in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, on Thursday, which marked the World Car Free Day. [Photo/provided to China Daily] 

SHANGHAI - To embrace World Car Free Day, young people in Shanghai bared their hearts and bodies on Saturday.

Nearly 200 people, including some expatriate cycling lovers, participated in a "naked" bike ride organized by a cycling club in the city.

The participants, with men wearing shorts and women in bikinis, cycled 15 km from the southeast part of Xuhui district, through the former French Concession and finally to the Bund.

"The number of participants has grown significantly. Last year only 30 people took part," Zhang Linyuan, owner of the club, said.

"We were not doing the event just to be naked," he said. "In fact, we were not allowed to ride naked.

"It's just one of our selling points to attract more attention and so arouse more social awareness of low-carbon travel."

The participants did colored drawings on their bodies, which included slogans such as "Say 'No' to CO2" and "Keep fit and protect your girl".

"Most of the riders were between 25 and 35, but we also had a 10-year-old girl and a 71-year-old man," Zhang said.

He added that the event was strongly supported by government officials, who were willing to accept such a trendy campaign.

"We think young people can be pioneers in promoting the low-carbon lifestyle," said Qian Yueyang of the China Communist Youth League Shanghai Committee, one of the coordinators of the event.

"They have the power to eventually influence the whole of society."

Zhou Yuan, a long-term club member who took part in the naked bike ride, said that cycling has changed his life. He used to drive his car every day, but now he rides his bicycle most of the time.

"When I pass by some small gardens or lanes on my bike, I often stop for a while and discover more about the places, which was unimaginable when I was driving all the time," he said. "I feel I'm closer to life."

With more and more young people in the city doing a lot of exercise, cycling is not the only way to promote low-carbon travel.

Pang Tao rides his skateboard or folded bicycle to work every day. At the sports gear company where he works, many of his colleagues also skateboard or cycle to work.

They use longboards on the streets, which are longer and have larger, softer wheels compared to ordinary skateboards.

"Many people don't know that longboards are especially suitable for big cities like Shanghai, which has well-constructed roads and ordered traffic. What's more, it's easy to learn to ride them," Pang said.

He said that commuting by longboard saves time, as it takes 40 minutes on his longboard to go from his home to his office, while it takes at least 55 minutes by bus and up to 90 minutes when the traffic is heavy.

"It's the first time we have participated in an environmental protection campaign," he said.

"It's a good start. We are actually planning more."