Once the weather turns nice, my family loves to be active outside where the kids can get their wiggles outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Here in Beijing, that can get tricky. Not only does the weather need to be nice, but the Air Quality Index (AQI) needs to be favorable. When the stars align and both of those things happen on the same day, you better believe we’ll take advantage of it.
When we moved to Beijing, we decided to live in the suburbs (Shunyi District). This meant we were far from the parks and activities that downtown Beijing could offer us, but we were close to the international schools and where most expat children live. When we first arrived, we wondered how many amenities we would find in the suburbs so far from the city center, but soon after we arrived, we were fortunate to discover a stunning park area a short drive away.
The park is basically a sealed path amongst trees and wildflowers that follows the river. It is about 12 kilometers long, and is part of a larger development called the Beijing Greenway. According to this article, the Beijing Greenway is a fairly new development that, when completed, will “link many of the city’s pre-existing parks, rivers and canals.” It is also part of a larger movement that encourages residents to leave their cars at home and take their bikes instead, bringing back cycling, a sport that decreased dramatically in recent years, especially after infrastructure changes in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games. The Beijing Greenway is one of many initiatives Beijing has taken on in order to clean the air and make Beijing a more livable city. You can read about these other plans here.
I look forward to seeing all the change that will occur during the next few years with these new plans for city development, but in the present moment, I am thankful for the little section of Greenway that I am able to enjoy with my family today.
This is a perfect place to take my young children (ages five and three) where my daughter can practice her balance bike and my son can gain confidence with his pedals. Also, it’s under the airport flight path so my two children both get very excited to watch the planes as they came in to land. The planes fly right overhead, close enough for them to see the tail tips, so my son can proudly announce which airline each plane belongs to. (Yes, we fly a lot. My kids know what the different tail and wing tips look like for several airlines.)
The first time we went to this walkway in the fall, the path seemed underused. It was a beautiful day and we crossed paths with barely anyone else. My husband and I meandered along, wondering how long the development had been there—some of the trees looked newly planted and the walking surface itself looked like it had been recently done. We wondered how long it would be before others discovered it, or how long before electric scooters (that belong on the road, not the Greenway) would discover it as a safer shortcut to avoid riding along a portion of “Dead-Ayi Road“.
Unfortunately, when we returned in the spring, just a couple weeks ago, there were indeed several times when we had to have our kids stop on their little bikes and let the big scooters go by. But all in all, it was still a great place to let our kids get some exercise outside and for Hubby and I to enjoy a walk in the fresh air.
To get there, see the Google map below. The pin is placed where we parked, in a small lot that’s next a building containing public restrooms, but don’t plan on using the toilets there. They were the most disgusting toilets I’ve ever seen in all my travels. You’re better off finding a bush.
Update: It’s been a year and a half since I originally posted this information, and I’m happy to say that the Greenway has been extensively expanded. We no longer have to drive to the Greenway, but there’s an entrance within walking distance from where we live. Now my hope is that the city will build some walking bridges throughout the Greenway so I won’t have to walk along busy streets with my kids in order to cross the canal and river. I can hope, right?