Bikes, China’s Icon, Thrive Despite Car Invasion

From the AP:

For a vivid insight into the clash of old and new in China, follow the bicycle.

Morning rush hour in Beijing and Shanghai used to be rivers of cyclists flowing in a majestic hush down broad bike lanes. Today, many of those lanes have been taken over by cars and buses, their roar and honk drowning out the tinkle of bicycle bells.

Yet despite China’s leap into modernity, the bicycle is far from dead — its numbers are growing. For many Chinese, pedal power remains a mainstay — for commuting, sending children to school or making a living.

In China, the bicycle’s enduring role epitomizes the country’s wider transitions — from countryside to city, from planned economy to freewheeling capitalism. Multiplying cars may be a sign of affluence, but the bike’s staying power is a reminder that most of China’s 1.3 billion people have yet to make it into the middle class.

See also a slideshow of China’s bicycles, their uses, and the people who ride them.


(Photos from flickr.com.)

July 6, 2008 3:14 PM
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