China Goes Back to Bikes? Not really.
Apparently, according to this BBC news story, the fastest growing form of transportation in China isn’t high speed rail or cars, it’s electric bikes. It’s more likely that the electric bikes are a stop gap measure for people as they upgrade from regular bikes to cars on the old ladder o’ material prosperity, so I won’t dare believe our environmental problems are going to be mitigated by this development.
“In China, electric bicycles are leaving cars in the dust. Last year, Chinese bought 21 million e-bikes, compared with 9.4 million autos. While China now has about 25 million cars on the road, it has four times as many e-bikes.”-Times Magazine
I think electric bikes are probably a nice intermediate step for those hundreds of thousands of Americans looking to downgrade from a car (hopefully for lifestyle choices and not just because they’re going back down the old ladder o’material prosperity). Supposedly, there is a contest right now in China over their safety between ‘cycling activists’ and the urban planners of China. Having never ridden one myself, how do they function with some of the newfangled bike infrastructure being built out there? Do they increase the area people feel comfortable traversing on bike, in terms of distance and not just for hills?