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Inline Skating Newsletter Article

Dan Skates Shanghai

By Dan Kibler

I was recently in Shanghai for 10 days on business. On a previous trip to Beijing I was disappointed that I did not have my inlines, as I saw some great places to skate. This time, I was determined to try rolling around Shanghai. When I talked about the trip, people were skeptical. I'd say, "Well, I'm sure I can find a park to skate in." Thankfully, I was wrong. The streets are where it's at in Shanghai.

Suzhou street scene

I tried some pre-trip research but the results of my Internet search were not too promising. There is a great video of Eddy Matzger skating in a park and a pool (in the water!), but no real Shanghai skating guide, so I was pretty much on my own.

Exploring the Streets

The sun rises early in Shanghai, and it comes up on the east side of a huge country with only one time zone. Still a bit jet-lagged on my first day, I slipped on my skates at the front of the Westin Bund Centre and hit the road just before 6 am. Through trial and error, I eventually found some great streets to skate on.

Most of the streets in the Bund area are quite smooth. The smaller streets are predominately used by bicycle and motor scooter riders and these are quite interesting. It was fun finding my place among them, passing bicycles and being passed by scooters. At one moment while waiting for a traffic light, I noticed one westerner pointing me out to his friend. Looking around I realized it must have looked like a lineup at the start of race: a big crowd of bicycles, scooters and me on the starting line waiting for the gun.

Three of my favorite streets were Central Sichuan Road; Ronmin Road, which circles the old city; and Nanjing Road, the pedestrian shopping street (see photo). The Bund Promenade was a bit of a disappointment, however. Great views, but between the slippery tiles and the grabby grout lines, I didn't feel I could loosen-up up and play.

Skating Advice

Here are some tips for safely skating Shanghai.

  • Be sure you have basic street skills: braking, maneuvering, handling rough pavement. There are parks, but they are generally crowded with walkers, Tai Chi'ers and even ballroom dancers!
  • Get out early. Traffic increases rapidly after 7 am.
  • Look for small streets with plenty of bicycle and scooter traffic. Avoid multiple-lane, high-speed auto traffic.
  • Take hints from bicycle riders. They treat many traffic lights as advisories. However, if they stop, you should too.
  • Chinese riders and drivers are "calmly aggressive." Assert your right-of-way when you can, but yield when you need to. Going with the flow is a good mantra.
  • Watch out for unmarked obstacles. One morning, a street was smooth, the next it had been dug up and filled with dirt!
  • If the road is wet, leave the skates in the closet. The smooth, dusty pavement turns as slippery as ice.
  • Be ready for lots of looks. Smile and wave back.


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