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Peking in kolo

julij 30th, 2015

MatevzH_kolo-4592Beijing and China used to be a synonym for cycling – but whats the reality today?

Bicycles are still here. There are some designated cycling paths (physically separated from the road), however, cyclist can really feel as a secondary and non-important participant on the road. Yes, it is an alternative mean of transports, however, there are some even more strict rules than for the cars. Parking for example – don’t expect to park anywhere, especially around large international hotels – cycling is inferior to driving and also an indicator of your “low” status. So… how is to cycle in Beijing?

First… gear… Helmet almost doesn’t exist. It is almost exclusevely used only by foreigners, or somebody who is serious sport cyclist. I would say, that the helmet is used by 1-2 per 100 cyclists. What you also need on your bicycle (beside good handling skills) is a bell. Without it you are invisible. As as plenty of chinese cyclists and motorist, as they don’t use lights at night. Yes, see and be seen its important, especially as drivers don’t give a shit about your safety or give you way. Brakes? Of course. During the bad pollution days its almost obligatory to wear an anti-pollution mask. What i lack (and admit it) is patience – i had it at the beginning, but now… if somebody cuts my way, i’ll shout, kick or bang the car. Don’t care anymore.

MatevzH_kolo-4572Good Chinese “driving” practice:
– even though pedestrians and cyclist have a green light, a car or motorbike will always have a right of way, and they will try to the best to run you over
– if there is green light, it doesn’t mean that it is safe to cross the road (unfortunately it is just “less” dangerous)
– cycling paths are often used as parkings and abruptly stopping points
– when overtaking a parked car, beware of the drivers opening their doors
– cars, motorbikes or other cyclist almost never signal lane changes. If the car is behind you, it will show its presence with a honk – they will try to overtake you, even if they will stop and cut your lane 10 meters later
– it is usual that a car, parked on cycling path will start as you try to maneuver around him
– riding in the opposite direction is nothing unusual

Actually, there are some rules enforced for car drivers (like speed cameras or stop light at the crossroads). Bicyclist, motorists or tricycle drivers don’t like those rules:
– as soon they are on road, they forget the rules
– crossroad signals are only indicative – who cares if the light is red and a lot of traffic
– nobody uses the lights, it also isn’t important in which way to drive
– the use of mobile devices is something completely normal for any driver
– helmets? what are those?
– etc…

Despite all that… cycling can be fun and sometimes also quite mentally difficult. Certainly the most efficient and usually the fastest mean of transport on short distance.

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