Becoming a Bike Professional

There’s A LOT of people in Beijing. When I say a lot, I mean more than 19 million people in ONE city. That is more than double the population of New York City. So you can imagine rush hour.

With a city so vast there are plenty of cars, public buses, taxis, and the most compacted subways you will ever see. However, there is one means of transportation that you would not think covers the city – and that is bikes.

There are just as many bicyclists as there are personal cars, if not more. So you can imagine what the streets look like. There are not any strict jaywalking rules, but as our Chinese tour guide told us a couple of weeks ago, “Unlike in the States, the pedestrians here do not have the right away. Here it’s whoever is bigger has the right away.” Honestly she could not have said it better.

Now to bikes. The best way to get around this town is just to ride your bike. You can ride on the streets or the sidewalk and be able to get to where you need to go. If you’re really skilled you can even have someone sit on the back of your back like they do here in China. The couples here have the girl, who is riding on the back of the bike, actually hold onto the umbrella that shades them. So not only is the driver riding thE bike AND carrying/balancing someone on the back of their bike, but the passenger not only has to hold on, keep their balance, but hold the umbrella. It amazes me.

Most of us from this group has not ridden a bike for years. I know I have not. However, you better pick it back up quick or get taken out. Bike traffic is just as bad as car traffic, but worse. With bikes, there really aren’t any rules of the road except – ride. There have been many near t-bone bike accidents, almost getting hit by cars, fatally falling off our bikes, but miraculously with no scratches- just a little traumatized, and accidentally knocking over one bike which creates a domino effect; and you end up knocking down an entire row of bikes. The thing is, this just does not happen to us, it happens to the locals too.

So to become a professional. Act like a local person. Watch how they carry someone on the back of their bike, or carry two bikes, or even better watch their actions when it comes crashes or riding in general on the road.

Good luck!

– Tia

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