Beijing’s Bicycles

There are many ways to get around in Beijing, but most of the time one will find that the bicycle is the quickest and most common way of getting from one point to another as bikeways stretch across the whole city and are as big as a car’s lane. Before riding a bicycle in Beijing though, one has to know certain rules and habits.

Once one arrives in Beijing and has unpacked the luggage, the next step should be to buy a bicycle. But it has to be remembered, to never at any time buy a new bicycle, unless one wants it to get stolen the moment it is out of sight. Old bicycles can either be bought at a real bicycle shop, a bicycle repair shop or from someone who happens to have an old bicycle and looks like he doesn’t need it anymore. As the Chinese are usually very small people, the bicycles’ seats very often do not exceed a certain height and width which sometimes can be a sore experience for ones buttom.

After one is a proud owner of a rusty old bike, one should get a lock and two bells. A bell is vitally important if one wants to move forward quickly and survive. Chinese people seem to have been born with honking and ringing the bell, it is almost all they do when they are on the street which is probably why hardly anybody is reacting to the sound anymore. It is also essential to get one bell for actually ringing it and another bell with a compass showing the direction in which one is going. Chinese people have the habit of talking about North, South, West and East when giving directions, therefore a compass can come in very handy if one is inquiring for the way.

The next thing one should acutely be aware of is the cycling and driving behaviour of the Chinese people. There seem to be no traffic rules and traffic lights are seldomly acted on. Cars generally disregard bicycles unless one is cycling abrasively and self-confident and one should also never hesitate. As for the other cyclers, it is always amazing how slow Chinese people ride their bicycles and they never stick to a certain side of the bikeway. While overtaking a Chinese cycler, one first of all has to guess which side the cycler will waver over to next and secondly one has to maniacally ring the bell to announce ones arrival.

As long as one keeps these points in mind, riding a bicycle is the best way to move around quickly, be independent and enjoy China’s manifold capital.

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