There is so much to write about but today I thought I would give my first installment of “What you can carry on a bike.” This is a pictorial project I have been working on practically since I got here. It is so fascinating to live in a city of 20 million people with glass high-rises and all the glitz and glam that goes with it, and right next door or out side a whole different world can be going by.
In New York there are the workers who make everything run. The pick up the garbage, clean the streets, trim the hedges, deliver the bottled water and pick up the empties etc. But all of it seems to be done by car or truck, sometimes by neat little messenger satchel for a bike riding messenger. Not here.
Perhaps it is a factor of the climate. It almost never snows here. Perhaps it is the long history of the bike riding culture. I don’t know. But the fact is that an amazing amount of goods and services is moved through out this city by bike. Things that are clever, and things that are scary. It never ceases to amaze me.
You have to also picture the traffic patterns and mentality to fully appreciate the bike delivery/sales persons gumption. My side of Shanghai (Pudong) is newer, with wide boulevards that can be two or three lanes in each direction. On the outer edge of each side of the road is another grass island or sometimes metal fence. This delineates the bike lane from the car lanes. The bike lane is wide enough to easily drive a car down. An important rule of the road that drivers, bikers and pedestrians especially should know is that there is right on red but people turning right don’t have to stop, they don’t even slow down. Often cars will go into the bike lanes as they turn right to avoid oncoming traffic, and then pop out into the car lane at the next gap in the median. Or sometimes the taxis decide the bike lane makes a good taxi stand. Also, bikers often go both ways in one bike lane instead of being on their correct side of the road for their direction with traffic. Also, the term “bike” for the bike land is used loosely. It could be a traditional bike, an electric motor assist bike, or a moped. Motorcycles do use the road with cars. Lastly, the overarching rule of the road seems to be “might makes right”. The bigger your vehicle and the louder your horn, the more control you have over the road. Pedestrians and bikers DO NOT have the right of way. Even the bikers seem willing to run you down if you get in their way.
So imagine this wild west of traffic when you see these pictures and imagine being on these bikes and dodging traffic. I took some of these pictures and some were taken by another photographer and I found them online. If I can find his name I will give him full credit, his pictures are great!
*A note for my Mom and Dad and in-laws: Please do not fear for us when you imagine us walking and navigating this crazy traffic. The sidewalks are big and safe and there are cross walk lights, you just have to look both ways even with the light and you get used to it fast!