As sustainable transportation becomes more of a hot topic among citizens, media, and officials worldwide, Chengdu has jumped on the bandwagon with its 198 LOHAS Bike Park, a 6.7km track dedicated to recreational biking that is part of the greater network of "green" paths (that are actually red in color) known as the Jinjiang Greenbelt (锦江绿道) that link Chengdu to Wenjiang, Pixian, and Shuangliu.
LOHAS is a not-so-clever acronym for the awkward phrase "lifestyles of health and sustainability." Nobody who's anybody (which, in this case, means taxi drivers) seems to use that name, anyway, so you might as well just get used to calling it "the bike park."
Just east of the Chengdu Racetrack (because wheeled things on tracks go together), the park offers visitors bikes for rent and the opportunity to ride them on narrow paths that a) are sometimes broken off by intersecting roads and b) are sometimes jammed with pedestrians, including small ones who dart out unpredictably. If you dare to pedal faster than you might at the intersection of First Ring Road and Renmin Nan Lu, be prepared to hear calls from the general public to slow down.
Midway along the paths is a mini fun fair with a very small circular dirt track for scary looking go karts. At the south end of the paths, beyond the Chengdu Raocheng (Fourth Ring) is a small guard gate, and as it turns out, there is a separate entrance fee of RMB20 per person to pass through, unless you pedal quickly. These back paths encircle the Jinjiang Egret Wetland Park (锦江白鹭湾生态公园 ), which opened in May. The 2 square kilometer area boasts 200 kinds of wetland plants, a flower-and-ribbon-adorned bridge, under which a small ferry passes, and far fewer people than the free front section, making it a potential picnic hotspot.
Bike rentals are RMB20 per hour but a deposit of either a passport or Chinese ID card or RMB400 is required. The bikes are not maintained particularly well, which is an understatement; they're not maintained at all, and if you try to be selective about your rental, you will be informed that "they're all the same"—which is, in a way, true: They differ in degree, but the general principle of suckiness holds. By suckiness we mean brakes and gears that do not function whatsoever. At least the seats are easily adjusted, and most of the tires seem to be inflated. All of the rentals are Giant-brand mountain bikes of the same size, which is uncomfortably small for anybody taller than 165cm. If that review is off-putting, don't worry: You may also bring your own bike to ride.
Shiling Forest Park
An alternative park, with almost no people (and no bikes) is the Shiling Forest Park (十陵森林公园 ) in east Chengdu. An overgrown hillside overlooking a heavily trafficked boulevard, the park's maze-like pathways are good for a quick getaway to the "wilderness." The area is home to an ancient tomb that seems to be generally closed (unless you can persuade the gatekeeper to unlock it—we couldn't, but we didn't try that hard), a small grove, numerous plant species and a water reservoir that attracts various birds. Entrance is free. Enter from the north gate on Jinjiang Dadao/Shishang Lu 锦江大道/石胜路.