Friday, March 1, 2013 – Changzhou, China
The thing that strikes me most about Changzhou are the number of scooters and bicycles on the road. Unlike the scooters in Paris, which are driven mainly by aggressive young people in leathers and face concealing helmets, the scooters and bicycles in Changzhou are driven by an eclectic group of riders from youngsters to grannies and everyone in between. Whole families may ride on a scooter, with Dad in front, Mum behind holding an infant in her arms and grandma sitting precariously on the rear, facing backwards. There is not a helmet, safety harness or leather jacket in sight, although many riders will have a face mask to cut out polluting fumes. Bicycles may have large carts attached behind, pulling who know what, or you might see a bicycle pulled up on the sidewalk, heaped with plastic bags and bundles, with an older woman sitting on the ground beside it, quietly mending an article of clothing, reminding me of the shopping cart homeless in Vancouver, only less loud and more industrious. Other scooters weave in and out of both vehicle and pedestrian traffic as they go about their business, dozens lining up at every corner, then the traffic light turns green releasing then like a herd of cats as they weave every which way, making crossing the street on foot an exciting adventure.