Katie Melua may have sung about nine million bicycles in Beijing but even with Shanghai's ever increasing car population we still have over five million zipping around the streets (1.8 bikes per family).
Shanghai is becoming a petrol fuelled metropolis with the governments ‘2 wheels bad 4 wheels good’ policy. In 2003 all bicycles were apparently banned from main highways; that doesn't seem to stop the Shanghaies. As cyclists brave the weather, pollution, taxis and shiny American style gas guzzlers and other bike adrenaline junkies.
Despite the car increase bikes still rule the roads (and the footpaths).
There are specially allotted cycle lanes where as far as I can tell the only rule is there are no rules! With people travelling in both directions at the same time. I'm astonished I'm yet to see a collision (although the evidence is very apparent on the poor suffering bikes). They wear little protection, with few wearing helmets (I saw someone in a horse riding helmet I guess that's better than nothing). Just a face mask and a coat on backwards (Kriss Kross style) to protects their arms from the wind or sun and leather or sheepskin chaps I guess to protects from the elements .
It is certainly twice a fast to get around the city by bike than by cab.
Even with the overpowering onslaught of four wheels many goods are still moved by carts and wagons, pedicabs (bicycle version of your man with a van) or pulled by tractors or bicycles.
It always amazes and amuses me what can be transported on two wheels. The ingenuity and the flagrant disregard for personal safety come hand in hand.
Here are a few pedal driven (and electric) Bikes and their varied loads.
Recycling/salvage is the main income of many people in Shanghai. They have got loading their bikes down to a fine art.
As work at a furniture company we frequently have empty boxes and crates, in a blink of an eye they are loaded up and whisked away!
This would have been good for the uniform blog, the most smartly dressed dustman I’ve ever seen.
Safety doesn’t seem to be a concern; delivering sheet glass, yep that will be fine, what could go wrong!
Water delivered to the office. The delivery man has to do some serious yoga in order for him to get his legs around the bottles!
Bedroom furniture delivered.
Obstruction of vision or frizzy hair mmm?
I love this one, a fridge perfectly balanced. I’ve seen a bike with 2 fridges on before.
and finally the Pièce de résistance, this pimped up scooter with wind screen wiper and gaffa tape. I can just imagine a wife looking out if the kitchen window at her husband tinkering away. Thinking ‘well it keeps him out of the way’!