yes this email is coming from the land of millions of bikes. China. Bikes of all kinds, but for the most part single speed. This is my first time in Beijing during the winter (I'm normally a summer person) so I was glad to see that the Chinese aren't fair weather bikers like their Chicago counterparts.
Some disappointing trends I've noticed is that there are definitely more personal cars which I've been told is for several reasons none of them being because the gov't outlaws them like a yahoo news article says. Mostly its because a lot more people can afford cars now, and they're something that is extremely desirable. A lot of younger people want them as more status symbols than convienence (traffic is hell here. not just bikes run reds or split lanes. everyone does). Also a lot of people who were on the fence about owning a car got them duriing the SARS epidemic because no one wanted to take public trans.
Of course the result is tons of cars in traffic jams while bikes stream by unhindered. The craziest thing I've seen is an old man with a cart-bike carying hinkley-schmitt-type water bottles while the delivery guys sat in the back. I'll never complain about how heavy my chrome bag is.
A couple years ago I bought a traditional Chinese bike for 110rmb which is about 13-14 us dollars. Its a single speed with a rusted out chain and true plumber pipe steel (not the stuff surly uses). I took it out yesterday and have to say it's an amazing experience to ride with that many people who are just going about their daily business. Anyways just thought I'd drop a line from the brithplace of critical mass. happy riding/holidays