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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 07-06-10, 10:22 AM   #1
folder fanatic
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Help Us! Bring Back The Bicycle!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/24/beijing-cycling-capital-plans

Apparently even China is not immune to the "blessings" that the heavy private motor vehicle use brings with it. Here is an article on going back twenty years for them.

Yet can they actually return to bikes?:

'....But despite unhappiness about driving, there was scepticism about the likelihood of a return of Beijing's bicycle culture.

"Fewer and fewer of my friends ride bicycles, but the interesting thing is they don't drive cars either," said Jiamin Zhao, an internet entrepreneur who still cycles his child to school each morning. "Some people are tired of driving. More are taking the subway or taxis...."

Or is this the more likely scenario:

"....I don't think they are serious about promoting bicycles. It's much easier to buy and own a car in Beijing than Shanghai," said Chen Ying, a language teacher who owns two cars. "When I started driving 10 years ago, it was something special because not many people had cars then, but now everyone has one and the traffic is terrible. If they really want me to use a bicycle, they should build clean and safe bicycle lanes. At the moment, the roads are dangerous and too smelly...."

You decide.

Last edited by folder fanatic; 07-06-10 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 07-06-10, 05:22 PM   #2
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Same boat, same river, same paddle as the US.
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Old 07-07-10, 05:35 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by folder fanatic View Post
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/24/beijing-cycling-capital-plans

Apparently even China is not immune to the "blessings" that the heavy private motor vehicle use brings with it. Here is an article on going back twenty years for them.

Yet can they actually return to bikes?:

'....But despite unhappiness about driving, there was skepticism about the likelihood of a return of Beijing's bicycle culture.

"Fewer and fewer of my friends ride bicycles, but the interesting thing is they don't drive cars either," said Jiamin Zhao, an internet entrepreneur who still cycles his child to school each morning. "Some people are tired of driving. More are taking the subway or taxis...."

Or is this the more likely scenario:

"....I don't think they are serious about promoting bicycles. It's much easier to buy and own a car in Beijing than Shanghai," said Chen Ying, a language teacher who owns two cars. "When I started driving 10 years ago, it was something special because not many people had cars then, but now everyone has one and the traffic is terrible. If they really want me to use a bicycle, they should build clean and safe bicycle lanes. At the moment, the roads are dangerous and too smelly...."

You decide.
Sounds like a little of both statements:

1. Not serious about promoting bikes.
2. Fewer and fewer people ride bikes.
3. Conditions not great for bike riding (heavy traffic).
4. If you live where a subway or bus is, I can see people opting for that, not necessarily taxis as much.


As RF basically said above, practically the same story as the U.S.
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Old 07-08-10, 06:27 PM   #4
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I don't know how we could blame the Chinese or the Indians for wanted what they believe we in the US have. The whole world sees our lives as soft and easy. The Chinese have a life that is anything but soft and easy. If we were in there shoes wouldn't we want what we have? Well yes we would because that is exactly how were got where we are. Why would we be surprised if others want the very same things. Why would they listen to us when we already have what they want?
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Old 07-08-10, 10:26 PM   #5
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Probably the only good aspect of this article is the fact that the Chinese are building the public transportation infrastructure like no other nation. Once this happens all those bike commuters will end up becoming bus and train riders.
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Old 07-08-10, 11:00 PM   #6
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I use taxis all the time in South Korea. They are a very viable alternative to car ownership as they are very plentiful and cheap. I am not sure how far it is but the first 5-10 minutes on the taxi cost only $2.00 (2,400 won) and goes up about $0.15 every mile or so after that. I can get all the way across Seoul for under $10.

I would suspect that they are even cheaper in China. Though I think they will be getting more and more expensive over the coming years and as traffic gets worse and worse.

Last edited by zeppinger; 07-08-10 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 07-09-10, 04:23 PM   #7
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You decide.
I have a friend who was born and raised in China. He had to ride a bike to work for 10 years. He thinks I'm crazy to commute by bicycle when I don't absolutely have to.
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Old 07-09-10, 06:35 PM   #8
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I have a friend who was born and raised in China. He had to ride a bike to work for 10 years. He thinks I'm crazy to commute by bicycle when I don't absolutely have to.
Just guessing here, Art, but your friend likely rode a Pigeon, and has yet to see the difference between that and a sweet bike -- everyone here in my hometown is like that! The number of times I've heard: "You spent HOW MUCH for that bike? You coulda bought a CAR for that!"; if I had a dime for each, I could buy ANOTHER one! LOL! (My usual answer has always been: "Didn't WANT a car!")

To me, it's sickening how the car has become an INTERNATIONAL symbol of 'I made it!'
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Old 07-09-10, 06:52 PM   #9
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I lived in Shanghai for 2 years. Here is what I know about bicycles and China.

1. The infrastructure in China is not car friendly. That is to say, there is no parking. Because of this, bicycles continue to be a popular way of getting to work. I know people who owned and used multiple bicycles. They would ride 1 to the train and lock it up - take the train - then use a 2nd bike to get to the office.

2. Riding a bicycle in China is not a recreational activity. It is not fun. Road rage exists. All the same problems that occur in a traffic jam in the U.S. exists on the roads in China.

3. There is a lot of pressure being put on young Chinese men by Chinese women to have an apartment and a car. If you don't have these it is very difficult to date. Not impossible - but difficult. This is a huge push towards driving a car and away from riding a bike.

4. Owning a car is prohibitively expensive. In Shanghai license plates are auctioned on a monthly basis. This controls the number of new drivers.


Based on my experiences in China I'm not sure advocating 'more' bicyclists in the U.S. is the best thing. Trust me on this - hundreds of thousands of people commuting by bicycle pretty much ruins the experience.
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Old 07-10-10, 10:30 AM   #10
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Here is an interesting article on the history of the bicycle in China:

http://www.imperialtours.net/bicycle.htm

Quote:
Today's ubiquity of the bicycle in China has led to the widespread assumption of a cultural inclination of Chinese to bicycling. A deeper investigation into pre-1949 cycle history unveils quite a different image: it seems that economic and modern infrastructural reasons, rather than cultural preconditions, can explain China's development into the bicycle nation of the 20th century.
...
Also rooted in the colloquialisms of urban youth is danche (single; vehicle). Originally, it was a synonym for the common single-wheelbarrow. In the 1940s, it appeared in modern youth literature with the meaning bike. Today it is an argot expression for the unhappy bachelor...
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Old 07-10-10, 12:37 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
Just guessing here, Art, but your friend likely rode a Pigeon, and has yet to see the difference between that and a sweet bike -- everyone here in my hometown is like that! The number of times I've heard: "You spent HOW MUCH for that bike? You coulda bought a CAR for that!"; if I had a dime for each, I could buy ANOTHER one! LOL! (My usual answer has always been: "Didn't WANT a car!")

To me, it's sickening how the car has become an INTERNATIONAL symbol of 'I made it!'
It's not how much money that I've spent on a bike that astounds most people, it's the mileage. My friend was totally amazed after first misreading my bike's odometer, realizing later on that it did not read tenths of miles. What he thought was in hundreds of miles, was actually in thousands of miles.
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Old 07-10-10, 05:14 PM   #12
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China's car culture is roughly about 50 years behind the US, their economy is roughly 80-100 years behind, but they are quick learners. It's only a matter of time before their workforce starts demanding even more pay and better working conditions. The demanding has already begun, but will intensify to feed the growing dependence on the automobile, I suspect. Which isn't too bad a thing, as production costs go up (and profit margins shrink), some of our displaced manufacturing base may return.

Actually, I think that may already be happening. Sunlite accessories used to be the leading budget brand, but now has apparently moved up-market in pricing.
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Old 07-10-10, 09:22 PM   #13
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China's car culture is roughly about 50 years behind the US, their economy is roughly 80-100 years behind, but they are quick learners. It's only a matter of time before their workforce starts demanding even more pay and better working conditions. The demanding has already begun, but will intensify to feed the growing dependence on the automobile, I suspect.
Have to say this: there are some aspects of Chinese culture that are light years ahead of US culture. I'm pretty sure they can figure this stuff out... We shouldn't necessarily figure they are following a path blazed by the West.
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Old 07-10-10, 10:55 PM   #14
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Have to say this: there are some aspects of Chinese culture that are light years ahead of US culture. I'm pretty sure they can figure this stuff out... We shouldn't necessarily figure they are following a path blazed by the West.
I agree. China seems to show every indication that it will at least TRY to leapfrog over inefficient and unhealthy technologies such as ICE powered automobiles and coal fired electricity generation. We should be developing these technologies in the US in the short period of technological superiority that's left to us.
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Old 07-11-10, 01:43 AM   #15
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I agree. China seems to show every indication that it will at least TRY to leapfrog over inefficient and unhealthy technologies such as ICE powered automobiles and coal fired electricity generation. We should be developing these technologies in the US in the short period of technological superiority that's left to us.
Roody,

Could you please quote the sources that state that China is trying to leapfrog over inefficient and unhealthy technologies? Most of the sources I've come across state the contrary. One fact they do state is China opens up a new coal plant at a rate of one per week. Furthermore, they are rapidly moving away from bicycle transportation. Are you aware that General Motors sold more cars in China this past month than they did here in the US? China's air quality is so bad in Beijing that for Summer Olympics they held there they declared a a holiday just so the air quality would be passable for most of the events. Even then some of the cyclists refused to participate because they couldn't breathe.

I may have stated this elsewhere, but before the bicycle becomes a common mode of transportation the whole taxing structure for transportation will have to be changed. Currently city and state governments tax on the weight of the vehicle. Assuming they got rid of cars and trucks tomorrow how do you suppose they would keep up all these wonderful roads that we ride upon? Even the heaviest cargo bicycle weighs no more than 100 pounds fully loaded would you be willing to be taxed to the tune of several thousands of dollars for the privilege of cycle transportation to make up the shortfall for the lack of cars and trucks?

Let's not forget some of the other industries that would be impacted such as insurance. What happens to all the insurance companies when there are fewer cars and trucks to be insured? If for some reason we have to carry insurance on bicycles are you willing to be charged the same rate that you are with a car to keep the insurance industry going? The simple truth is a bicycle would not require as much insurance therefore there wouldn't be as big a need for as many insurance companies; consequently there would be fewer people employed.

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