Posted October 26th 2011 at 12:06 pm by
in Bike Lanes of Kunming, Transportation

Bike Lanes of Kunming: People's Road

Renmin Lu, or People’s Road, is a major road that runs through the heart of Kunming, China. Millions of Kunmingers travel along this road to commute to and from the city’s urban core.

Soon after I began documenting my daily commute, I found myself paying closer attention to the details — noises of the city that I learned to drown out. Once I started listening, I could hear the rhythmic pulse of traffic movement and the musical communication between car horns, motorcycle alarms, and bicycle bells.

With the help of a local sound artist, Taurin Barrera, I collected field recordings of the familiar yet ever-changing Renmin Lu bike lanes. The recordings capture the snippets of conversations on the road, the pop tunes blasting out of sidewalk shops, and the rickety sound of bicyclists pedaling to their destinations. As I replay the recordings, I realize I’m not only listening to the sound of traffic fading in and out; I’m learning to pay attention the nuance of human interactions in an environment that is in perpetual flux.

West Renmin Road by CoLab Radio


View Bike Lanes of Kunming: Renmin Road in a larger map

Entrance of Xiaoximen, one of the busiest intersections in the city.

Xiaoximen Underpass by CoLab Radio

Center of Kunming by CoLab Radio

The field recording captures a sense of constant movement that contradict the stillness of this photograph.

East Renmin Road by CoLab Radio

Post and photos by Sewon Chung. Field recordings by a Kunming-based sound artist, Taurin Barrera.

3 responses to “Bike Lanes of Kunming: People's Road”

  1. szening says:

    This is a great project! Kunming is one of my favourite cities in China. I live in Auckland, which is a very car-centric city, and bicyles aren’t really given much consideration in the grand scheme of urban planning. Which is a shame though, because as you have shown, you really get a better “feel” for the ebb and flow of a city when you’re on a bike than when you’re in a car. I look forward to reading more of your updates :>

  2. Philippe says:

    Wow, very nice documenting!

  3. Sewon Christina Chung says:

    Thank you, Szening and Philippe! I really love having the extensive bike network here, though I wonder what will happen to them as the city continues to change quickly. It’s been really interesting to listen to the city more closely.