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China: By Journalists Eyes IV. - How To Ride In Beijing

Published: 2.6.2012
We "elect" could see the Chinese megalopolis through largely a luxury air-conditioned bus with a smiling dude behind the wheel. It is also part of local standard, certainly not just for a small group of natives and of course for wealthy tourists.

The view from the window shows the even eight lines roads, where as a snake go hundreds of cars. When driving along the main avenue, we see almost the same modern cars - the old ones already on the streets is not - pass Volkswagens, Toyota, Honda, BMW and then the wonderful large limousines, probably Chinese made, and to our surprise we could meet there also Škoda car.

Throughout Beijing lead highway that crisscross the city. We see the intricate lines, overpasses, underpasses, tunnels, power system do not understand, but it seems to be effective. Although the holidays in Beijing, and the city is full of tourists standing in traffic is minimal. Officially, the city moved to 5 million cars a day and said to go into the streets 3000 new cars.

Drive thru residential or business district, it is a little different story. Here Drivers certainly does not follow traffic rules, just go to your destination, and as soon as possible. Blinkers not therefore almost everywhere rattling horns and a first-come, passes, he just goes. Surprised to see that no order or do not respect pedestrians, traffic lights or misses them. No problem to cross to red light, always a couple lanes, where just nothing coming.

Beijing not only cars but - simply said - there goes everything that has at least two wheels. Every tenth car is a taxi, public buses are everywhere and directs traffic at each stop for us a very funny pair of yellow flags in hand. Is it possible that the driver doesn´t have in the job description to know, which stops are in his driving plan? Are inherent and then rickshaw and moto - rickshaw - but apparently used only for ignorant foreigners. Our guide warned us in our spare time to certainly resist such an attractive means of transport – they will talk about a low price and then they want much more.

We are in a country of contrasts, that there are also the Beijing fleet. And so between the sedans and limousines Carriers expertly intertwined remembering perhaps the Cultural Revolution. I estimate that most of them went through many reconstructions from the hands of the owner and to look at, I would say that this is a genuinely DIY work. Any such “move machine” is a bit different, but they have a common - three wheels. And then, too vast majority of the cargo boxes of everything from mountains to few member family.

Chinese tricycle

But there is some newfangled electric tricycle, hit the last Five Year Plan. It's quite expensive, so a huge blowup hood reminiscent of the peak cap Buttoned down and see more ladies on the needles. They do not need a driver's license, do not need petrol or gas, reach speeds up to 30 kilometres and unlike the rest of the vehicles do not contribute to a lot of discussed Beijing smog.

Beijing, however, these are still bicycles as well. Hundreds of bikes that roll in all directions in the special lanes - those would be them our cyclists might envy - as nearly horizontal surface, in Beijing, perhaps because there are no hills. If you tell the Chinese that the bike is for sports, he will tap on the forehead. Here it is the cheapest and surest way to get from point A to point B. Beijing every day trying to get through as many bicycles as cars - that is 5 million. A man in a jacket is pedaling home from work, carrying his wife on the frame that holds the meat in hand and dinner. Or nearby: old man ties a string to a tree a rusty bicycle with a cart, which is indispensable in the cart all his work tools.

Take a new road bike you can buy only for 100 yuan (260 dollars), for the same amount, how much is four "American" coffee in a candy store. Therefore it is the most frequent object of theft.

Cyclists on local roads, streets, pavements are a separate chapter. In our home we are out of their "extreme" pieces about crazy - are intertwined everywhere, the red, after the transition, cruise quiet huge intersection and you will always be where the car begins, then stops and there is nothing if not operated on and there is no immediate crash, continue to cool further. From the fifty meters distance all of this is checked by policeman. Not once but we can´t see that he would stop someone, legitimized, chastised ... but do not see any cannon, accident, or little crash so one must consider is that despite all the chaos, the traffic in Beijing is very smooth and safe.

Text/photo: Andrea Fantová



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