The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

This Is What Riding Your Bike To Work In China Can Feel Like:
January 20, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

… and of course, I should know given I am now a fully fledged member of the sad-old-bastard-ride-to-work club, thanks to my new bike – which I recently discovered looked pretty similar to the last bike I owned – which was almost thirty years ago!!!

And yes, I am saying the driving standard here is bad. That might sound a terribly bad thing to say, but it is sadly true. Not for everyone of course, but every day you hit the road, you will pretty much see something that Hollywood would like to feature in one of their bad movies.

There are reasons for it though.

You see, apart from the fact that car ownership is relatively new here so the frame of reference for personal transportation is a bike – hence people try and squeeze Hummers through the gap a moped would find it difficult to get through – there is no ‘letter of the law’ for driving here, so the ability to “explain away” an accident is so high, people don’t feel there are many consequences to bad driving.

Though of course, they don’t think it’s bad driving, it’s just driving.

Then there’s the whole cultural thing of ‘not letting someone get ahead of you’ which is psychologically deep rooted to a time where the difference between first and second could be life and death – not from a metaphorical point of view, but literally.

So all in all, there are many reasons for it, which is much better than the driving I see in Italy. Hell, I’m half Italian and every time I’m in Rome, I have a minor meltdown whenever I have to either [1] drive or [2] cross the road.

Anyway, now I’ve pissed on the driving skills of two great, historical nations, I think I’d better go however from now on, I wish to be known as Evel Knievel 2.0 … though prejudiced prick might be more appropriate.

17 Comments so far
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you forgot the main reason campbell, theyre all trying to get out the way of you on your fucking midlife crisis bicycle.

Comment by andy@cynic

note i said bicycle so anyone new on here wont think you have any element of speed demon fucking cool about you. you can thank me later.

Comment by andy@cynic

You think of everything.

Comment by DH

And US restaurants serve massive portions of food because Americans were brought up to be generous to strangers which is why the army get involved in every countries drama. It’s all about being a good christian nation. Not a lot of people knew that. Including me until I decided to write it 3 seconds ago.

Comment by DH

Nice sarcasm.

OK, so I do accept what I’ve said could sound like it’s bordering on racist – but it’s not, even though I appreciate I’m hardly going to say anything differently.

The fact is, the way people drive here – be it bikes or cars – is fascinating to watch and after a time, you start seeing a connection behind the driving decisions and while I am not in any way suggesting my comments are the ‘be-all-and-end-all’, I would say they are not as flippant as you may initially think … especially in terms of the lack of clear ‘rule of law’ where driving is concerned and the cultural heritage of not letting anyone get in-front of you. You just have to board a China Eastern airplane to understand that.

As for bikes being the frame of reference for driving navigation – that is purely me – but after living here 4 years and seeing the same ‘squeeze into any gap’ mentality that happens over and over again, it’s a hypothesis that I believe has some merit. It is not meant to be prejudiced at all – despite me taking the piss out of myself at the end of the post – it’s just an observation and a hypothesis that cultural background and frames of reference dictate and influence everything we do.

Comment by Rob

How about we just call you “evil” for short Rob. Suits you.

Comment by DH

The background you give to driving in China is fascinating Robert. The lack of a letter of the law combined with the cultural mindset of not letting anyone get ahead of you is a dangerous combination. When you factor in the amount of new cars entering Chinese roads, it becomes even more chaotic. As for the video. That’s breathtaking. Is it similar to your exploits back in your Team Raleigh BMX days?

Comment by George

I’m guessing Nottingham’s cycle lanes are rougher than that.

Comment by John


Comment by andy@cynic

How did you even know about this? Nicole would smash him in a BMX race in 1983 and in 2014.

Comment by DH

Nicole Kidman BC: Before Cruise.

Comment by Bazza

Errrrm, that was a very, very long time ago George and quite frankly, I’m scared that you even remembered that. Actually it’s worse, I’m scared you even knew that as I doubt I would have told you. Stalker.

Comment by Rob

You ride a bike to work in Shanghai !? Was this decision inspired by a certain Charles Bronson movie title?

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Bloody hell, Freddie’s commenting. I’m honoured. How the hell are you matey? And no, not inspired by Charles Bronson’s movie choice, I like to think of it more as a Television show from the 80’s featuring Edward Woodward … The Equaliser.

Comment by Rob

It’s definitely a Death Wish mate.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

fucking hell, its volvo boy. how the fuck are you? however you are, youre fucking mad for writing a comment on here. dont you know thats how he pulls people back in to his web of pain and despair? you might be from vikingland but youre more fucking roxette so get the fuck away before its too fucking late.

Comment by andy@cynic

Too late, I’m afraid.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

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