Tuesday, June 12, 2012

More Fun With Transportation

I like to think that the longer I live in China, the more open I am to different forms of transportation (except riding a regular bike, which will never ever ever happen again).

For instance, I'm open other wheeled vehicles, like my friend Lesley's electric bike. Okay, so it looks like a motorcycle and she wears a helmet when she rides it, but she assures me it's an electric bike. (And yes, for those of you who know the story of my motorcycle accident, I know I may have said I'd never ride a motorcycle again, but I'm sticking with the it's-just-an-electric-bike story.) I've ridden on it twice now, and I feel both safe and excited. The first time I got a ride we were zipping through the hutongs near Houhai lake, weaving around pedestrians, carts, bikes, and so on. The second time she gave me a ride home from bowling and we zipped along the street, scooting past buses, cars, bikes. Easy!

Today I moved to a new form of transportation: the pedicab. These are souped-up electric bikes that tow a red seat with a red awning, most often used to take tourists through the lanes of hutongs. I needed to get to the American Embassy today and didn't have the patience to wait for a cab. What the heck, I thought. Should be fun. The driver very smilingly charged me twice what I would have paid in a cab, but I figured I was paying for the novelty of it as well.

It was wild (and again, if I can ever succeed in uploading videos, I'll show you), but the guy dropped me off at the wrong gate of the embassy. I finally found the right gate, and did what I needed to do, and decided to walk home. It's a pretty walk along the canal, and it was a nice day. Okay, so the air was "unhealthy" but it could have been worse. It could have been "very unhealthy" or "hazardous."

Then, on my walk home, I saw this.
 An old woman on an electric bike was hit by a very large bus. When I passed by, I believe I saw the woman sitting inside the bus, and her things were still scattered all over the road. I'm going to believe that the bike rider was in the bus. Did I hear any ambulances approaching? No, just some policemen picking up her sunglasses and hat and traffic carefully moving around the scene.

I don't know for sure if it means I'll think twice before I get on an electric bike again, but it was a harrowing sight.