In one such situation, a group of guys in their early twenties laughed when we were leaving a bar on our bicycles, and made a comment in Chinese which roughly translates to:
“haha, those foreigners have to rely on their bicycles to get to the bar”.
..the part that bothers me is the fact that people’s first instinct here when they see someone on a bicycle is to presume that they are too poor to afford any other mode of transportation.
If the perception that “people who use bicycles are poor” prevails in China, bicycling will become extinct as a mode of transportation as China’s wealth increases.
There are two things that can save bicycles as a viable mode of transportation in China. The first, ironically, is car culture itself. Increased traffic congestion — in a country with more than 160 cities with populations exceeding 1 million people — will give people a reason to start using bicycles again (or electric scooters as is the case here in Haikou).
The second thing that can save bicycles is changing the perception that bicycles are just a mode of transportation for the poor. This is much harder to do, as I have found…
This is really sad.
and not just Chinese in China, but Chinese people everywhere who are still deep in Chinese culture. There’s this big preoccupation about wealth and status.
ex. I have relatives who’ve immigrated here not too long ago (not so americanized or willing to be). and they and their friends are living out the American dream. big house in the suburbs. multiple cars. Mercedes, Porche. … x____x;;;
while my mom (and I) live in a small apartment right in the city, ride bikes, etc.
we’ve got different (and I would say better) values!
It takes time to get back
up on the J-curve.
(the environmental Kuznets curve, but for people and not a whole country
err.. but it’s a bell curve.. never mind. You know what I mean.)
Hopefully it won’t peak—get so bad and cause very costly damage soon—at a high point and start going down sooner.
You just gotta make bikes cool again. EXPENSIVE and cool.
Bring on the european imports to China.
Those fancy Dutch bikes, those super slick Danish bikes, the FIXIES.
Make Chinese bike culture cool.
Maybe have the FGGT (fixed gear girl taiwan) girls tour China.