Thursday, December 20, 2007

Riding the Bicycle in Beijing

Crossing the road in Beijing can be a real hazard. The roads can be three or four lanes wide both ways. Luckily, I overcame the phobia when a Chinese professor showed my Australian friend and I how, when he accompanied us on a trip to a museum. We had to cross one of those wide, busy roads and he grabbed us by our arms and guided us across, lane by lane. That was such an effective lesson in road crossing, China style. Not that there are no pedestrian crossing or overhead bridges. The trouble is those could be a mile off, from where you are. Not to mention, the tedious task of walking up those long bridges for those with tired feet.

Taking public buses was another challenging experience. When you take the public bus in Beijing, you need to know which station you’re disembarking because if you miss it.... boy or boy! Are you headed for a long, long walk! Sometimes - the next station could be a kilometer away.

Everything in Beijing is on a super-large scale even the campus. So a bicycle comes in handy when you do errands. I had learned to ride a bicycle when I was a kid but had not ridden for several decades. I soon learned the truth of the statement that once you’ve learned to swim or ride, you never forget it.
I relearned how to handle the bicycle on my good friend’s bike in Tienjin and after that I was riding all over the neighborhood and its surroundings and I learned how to ride on icy roads without falling.

Bicycling is another very good form of exercise but unfortunately, our roads do not make allowance for bicycle lanes.

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