Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Means to an end
Shanghai, China, May 2007
Between cars, scooters, bicycles and pedestrians, there's precious little open pavement in this city of 20 million people. Cyclists take to the road at their peril, it seems. Yet the way they approach this mode of transport is decidedly different than in North America.
Back home, we ride high-tech alloy wondermachines that cost more than my first car. Here, the average bike is an old, clunky beast of burden that doesn't seem to have ever been new.
Back home, we wear helmets, spandex shorts, gloves, shades and whatever other chic gear we've picked up at the bike store. Here, riders never wear helmets, and the clothes they ride in are the clothes they work and/or live in.
Back home, we ride for pleasure. A few of us commute, but we're usually the minority in an urban center. Here, it's an accepted mode of transport, with some bikes precariously loaded with more cargo and kidlets than I can stuff into my minivan.
As I peer through the viewfinder at this ancient machine, I wonder what its owner would think if he/she saw me ride by on my pink Specialized, wearing my helmet and related gear. I'd probably get a dismissive shrug as its owner got on and quietly pushed off on yet another daily commute. So different, yet so similar, all at the same time.
Your turn: Do you ride? Why?