Chinese E-Bikes, Traffic, & Pedestrians
cheap bike style and the bigger scooters are all sorts of styles holding one person, one and a child, or two with the second person’s feet hanging out (a lot have no place for the passenger’s feet.). We see a lot of women riding “side-saddle” on the back. The bigger scooter is the obvious status symbol here, short of having a car( which is the ultimate status symbol). On bigger scooters women can easily wear high heels, carry a package, and get around in style. These e-bikes go pretty fast and are silent. Pedestrians really have to look out for these. We see very few regular gas scooters or motorcycles. Suzhou has a separate lanes from regular traffic just for bikes and scooters…with e-types being more common now than regular bikes. These electric bikes and scooters are sold in Auchan’s (a French chain store like WalMart), the newly opened WalMart, and bicycle, e-bike, scooter shops. There is more scooter parking than regular car parking at most stores. Because of the value of these vehicles, most people ride them into their apartment buildings, walk them into the elevators and into their apartments for safety and of course to plug them in overnight. There is little pollution from these vehicles. Batteries and their disposal are another issue, but the Chinese are working on that. The scooter and e-bikes follow most of the rules of the road, although at intersections they go when they can and do not always wait for the light…which makes it interesting when they are turning left, and there are pedestrians…and then the lights change for the bigger vehicles…gets a bit crazy! E-bikes also do not always go the right directions in their lanes…many times there is 2-way traffic in a right-side-lane! We see thousands of e-bikes each day with people on their way to work, shopping, or just “tooling around.”
here are the traffic lights. Traffic lights have green and red arrows like the US. They also have a counter that is tied to the time left for the red light or green light, this is also in synchronization with the the pedestrian crossing time. Most lights have no yellow lights, except for a few in really busy intersections. The Chinese figure if you can see the green light counting down from five, there is no reason to speed up before it changes to red. The same is true for it changing from red to green, you know how long you have to wait. Chinese drivers seem to respect these timers and most (excepting some taxi drivers) drive not too aggressively. There is a lot of horn-blowing, as buses move from lane to lane, and pedestrians try to cross, and there are a lot of people! We have seen amazingly few accidents. We also have not seen traffic police with people pulled over…so don’t know how they handle violations?