One of the first things that Nick and I did when we arrived to Beijing, China was to buy bikes — this is how we were introduced to the city. Beijing is not a user-friendly place when it comes to cycling. Millions of people use this means of transportation to get around which creates chaotic, unorganized crowds. Being part of this moving mass and trying to stay out of the way of others was an exhilarating and daunting experience. All of the pictures that I captured in this book were taken while in motion, one hand on my left handlebar and break, the other palming my camera. Settings and focus were changed when I felt comfortable enough to do some no-hand biking for a bit. There were some close calls, enough so that I was relieved when I had finished taking all the pictures for the book.
Looking around it was clear that there is a vast diversity of bikes in Beijing. Some seem like they had seen many miles and were in general disrepair, while there were also new, lightweight, aerodynamic road bikes. Every road in Beijing has a designated bike lane, although cars, buses, and trucks use them when they feel like it. Automobiles don’t follow any rules, examples of this are entering a major highway going the wrong way on an exit ramp, or parking on sidewalks, completely blocking passage for pedestrians. China has banned any cars older than 15 years, which means that they all are pretty new. The same is not busses or trucks, and as a result, many older models look like past soviet designs.
My impression after being Beijing for two weeks was one of juxtaposition and motion. There seems to be a vast gap between the old Communist China and the new influences of contemporary culture. Donkey carts carrying watermelons wait at the same intersection with yellow Hummers and new Mercedes. Of course, when the light turns green, they all move forward, behind them millions of others.