Shanghai’s Contraflow Bike Lanes

By Matthew Yglesias

In a lot of the newer sections of Shanghai the tendency has been to build a lot of really wide roads, made more multi-modal (but even wider) via the inclusion of separated bicycle lanes. It’s a bit of a Brasilia meets Copenhagen vibe. But the older parts of the city have narrower streets and accommodate bikes with paint-striped lanes not unlike what we have in America. But where the streets are one way (which seems fairly common) Shanghai often directs the bikes to go in the opposite direction of the streets:

Contraflow Bike Lane

I can see the appeal of this, which includes the fact that cyclists can now be sure they won’t be taken unawares by sloppy drivers and hit from behind and that bikers aren’t going to roam out of their lanes if that means colliding head-on with cars. Then again, it also means that if something does go wrong and a crash does happen, it’ll be with considerably more force.