What makes the hutong model attractive is the social connections that are formed in these tight-knit communities.
At least one downside is that this real estate becomes very expensive.
There were also many people operating electric-scooters, which my guide said can be the most dangerous because you cannot hear them coming behind you and they rarely follow traffic rules — so they are more environmentally-friendly, but less pedestrian-friendly!
We had a somewhat breezy day, which made it lovely to bike around the city.
Even better, on the busiest roads these are fully segregated cycle tracks — meaning they are separated from traffic by a physical barrier.
Recent studies have shown that this can lead to increased safety because motor vehicles are excluded from this part of the road, although intersecting traffic at major cross-streets remains somewhat dangerous.
The government is seeking to preserve the hutongs that I traveled through in the north, but some poorer hutongs I biked through in the south have been targeted for redevelopment.
Alan suggested that in the past several decades more than three-quarters of the original hutongs have given way to taller buildings.This is mostly because there is pressure to house the growing population.But, it also has positive environmental implications (I will discuss this more in future posts).Beijing is very flat, so getting around took very little exertion — I didn’t even come close to breaking a sweat on an eighty-plus degree day.What is so interesting about Beijing is that although it has a world-class public transit system and enviable biking infrastructure, there is a rapidly growing number of cars as the residents become wealthier.In some ways it is hard to know what to make of the hutongs from an environmental perspective.