There is a great fascination with the way people transport themselves around Beijing. When I first arrived in the city, I was almost run over many times. Bikes, cars, tuck tucks, and other vehicles coming from everywhere. Anytime my family and I would walk on the sidewalk we thought we were safe. I was proven wrong. Nowhere is really safe for anybody in Beijing traffic. I soon learned that sudden movements could be fatal, however, if you are sure of yourself, not standing still, thinking if you should cross the street or not, you are more safe.
I have biked in The Netherlands, Texas, and London and all of these places I was never really scared to ride my bike. Beijing took a bit of time, but soon I felt jealous of all the bikers moving around swiftly. I later purchased a second-hand bike, till the arrival of my Dutch bike (we Dutch love our bikes). There is a huge sense of freedom moving around town with my daughter on the back. At first, I was a bit skeptical of all the crazy vehicles Beijingers have but felt that if I can’t beat them, I have to join them. So I did and biking around while ringing my bell is second nature to me now. I burst with pride when old Chinese men check out my Dutch grandma bike and give me a thumbs up.
I started focusing on the unique ways Beijing ren move about the city. There are no limitations on all the things they can move around on a bike. I have seen people biking with furniture, 300 water bottles (the big ones) and a baby in the basket of an Ofo bike. There is really no excuse here to say “that won’t fit on my bike” because in Beijing it does. The innovative ways people make use of bikes and motorbikes is very fascinating, even a breakfast kitchen on the bike is not a weird thing in Beijing. Baking sweet potatoes on an open fire attached to the back of a bike is a normal sight. There’s even a hairdresser on a bike, just around the corner from my home who charges only RMB 10 for a simple cut.
I realize that some of these methods of transportation are very dangerous and in London, we would surely get arrested, like if we drop our four-month-old baby in the front basket of our bike. But here it’s fine, and I have stopped holding on to my heart because there is really nothing we can do, but smile, and enjoy the wild ride Beijing is taking us on.
Picture Credit: Pauline van Hasselt and lostateminor.com