Chinese visual artist Zhao Xiaomeng explores the humble bicycle in his photographic project Bicycles in Beijing, Now.

Once the principal mode of transportation for Chinese from all walks of life, bicycles have taken a backseat due to the rapid modernisation the new millenium ushered in. An automobile boom, the ease and convenience of driving, and the suffocating pollution levels in China’s biggest cities were factors convincing enough for people to trade in their two wheelers for four.

The bicycles Xiaomeng captures are castaway cultural symbols. Rusting, broken and abandoned, they stand forlornly against street corners, some of them still locked in chains — poignant reminders of a major societal transition in China.

“The present fate of these objects is a reflection of how the Chinese, as individuals, are coping with the seismic shifts that their lives, and their country, is undergoing everyday,” says Xiaomeng.

You can get the book Bicycles in Beijing, Now here. Follow Xiaomeng on Instagram.

Images © Zhao Xiaomeng