My fellow travelers are going to do a BLOG entry about some of our adventures today. For those of you who have read my UML BLOGs before I like to write about my observations. Well, this morning I got up early and went for a walk ( totally forgetting that I was scheduled to climb the Great Wall of China later today.. Needless to say my Fitbit recorded lots of steps). What I wanted to share with you all today was my early observations about transportation in and around the city. I am fascinated to explore the patterns of society in new places for me. Today was no exception. Beijing at first glance could be like any other big US city. Filled with skyscrapers, paved roads, bridges, cars, buses and people all moving to make it to home or work. The mode of transportation just looks a bit different in some cases. Yes, they have the assortment of shiny new cars like Kia, Toyota, Hyndai and an occasional American car but it is the movement of the non-car people that have me mesmerized this morning. I am told that there is a lottery for license plates in China due to the overcrowding of the streets so that even if you can afford a car you might not be able to register it and drive it unless you have a license plate. So many people resort to other “wheels” to get around. I saw so many different vehicles and regular people just trying to get to work. A sanitation worker near her small scooter wearing her face mask to protect her against the air pollution and sun. Mother’s riding motorized scooters with their child eating breakfast on the back of the scooter ( no helmet), peddle bikes with 2 or more people riding to work, small “toy” vans barely big enough for a driver but a passenger in the back. A man on a motorized bike with his wife in the back, another man in a motorized scooter with 2 other workers in heading to work. I even saw a women in a motorized wheelchair playing “chicken” with big buses and cars in a busy rotary. Many of the motorcycle drivers wear mitts on their hands that look like oven mitts. They are for warmth in the winter and in the summer they protect the hands from sun. Interesting that they are worried about sun damage but not worried about head injuries.
All of the people appear fit with very little obesity noted. This must be attributed to their diet and exercise. It makes we wonder if the US developed a restrictive rule with our access to license plates then maybe we could see better health and less obesity.
I am reminded of my time in Ghana when the vehicles ruled the road and pedestrians have to “be aware”. It appears that is the case here and we must always be cautious with the vehicles because they are certainly not stopping for us. But I am amazed at the boldness or bravery ( or maybe insanity) when I see a disabled women in a motorized wheelchair navigate a busy rotary with full length passenger buses. I clap my hands in celebration of the people of China who seem to be making the transition to “sharing” the road with all vehicles. But they still do a lot of honking and beeping ! Haven’t seen a crash yet. Somehow the honking and beeping is the magic touch ! Honk Honk.. Beep Beep