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Moving to China

Out n About

Category: Out and About

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TL:DR: Cycling along the west side of the Yitong river is safe and scenic.

It may be hard to believe, but there are pleasant (and safe) cycle paths in the city. For people looking for some safe, gentle and family friendly exercise in (almost) picturesque scenery, a cycle around along the Yitong river.

When I first came to Changchun the Yitong river was an open sewer. Ok, it still is, but the  foreshore was one long, unattractive dump. A lot of money has been spent making this riverfront the cities premier greenway. There are plenty of parks with different personalities surrounding the river. Most of the parks around the river are great places to lounge around, have a picnic, and drink some beers in the sun - just remember to clean up after!

I work for a very progressive company which bought bicycles for staff to use. Taking advantage to borrow one over the weekend, I started at the South Ring road, going North along the East side of the river, (or Die Backstube on Caizhi Jie for those who navigate Changchun by beer). This is the newest riverside park. The easiest path is along the road through the middle of the park, which is the only road in China sparsely used by slow moving cars. There are nice paths throughout - not all accessible to bikes.

Crossing Weixing Road is the worst part of the trip. It’s best to turn right, and cross over at Ciazhi Jie. You still have six lanes of road to cross, but its the underpass, with traffic lights. Cross the Yitong river and cycle along the west side of the river. There are plenty of cycle friendly (stair free) paths. The road is quicker, but riverside is nicer.

The main advantage of the west side is you can cycle under Fanrong Lu and Nanhu Dalu. Ziyou Dalu needs to be crossed. It’s not as bad as Weixing Road, but still a six lane avenue. The parks between Ziyou and Jiefang/Jilin Roads are the oldest, most interesting, and most quaint along the river. The ruins of the old “communist” era can still be seen, locked away behind rusted gates and unkempt lawns.

Between Jiefang/Jilin Road and Dongda Qiao isn’t that interesting, (and yeah, smells a bit too), but it felt like a completed loop. The only shop along the route is by the bridge here. The East side has more stairs (unless you want to cycle along the quiet riverside road, which still offers very nice views).

Summer is short here, the cities crowded and dirty. Take some time out to enjoy the parks. They’re green, quiet, and not very crowded. Even if you don’t want to cycle, you can walk along one of the segments, just go down chill out, or lie down and recover from the night before.

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