Bikes in China

by Dick Brafford

When I visited Beijing, I was astounded by the way the Chinese utilized the bicycle and found myself wondering why we fat, lazy Americans aren't riding our bikes to work and helping to conserve energy. Why are the States one big freeway? Is it because Exxon rules everything in the U.S.A.? Has George W. sold out? Does anyone care, or are we all doomed to obesity and its health-related woes?

It's one thing to be proud of one's culture; it's quite another to believe our way of life is right just because it's the “American Way.” Just think how much better off we would be if we were open to adopting some of the practices of other cultures rather than always expecting others to imitate us.

Imagine what it would be like to ride a bike to work, surrounded by fellow commuters doing the same, breathing fresh air instead of car exhaust and burning off those extra pounds.

New York City would be all bikes, city cabs and public transit; how cool.

Instead, we just go on with the business-as-usual approach of being an oil-dependent nation and fail to look at the reality of how everyday activities like turning on a light, taking a hot shower and driving to the corner store depend on fossil fuel. Until we do, we will continue to be at the mercy of the Middle East.

It was with great disappointment that I learned recently that the Chinese are neglecting their bikes in favor of our Westernized lifestyle of driving absolutely everywhere. The ancient wall that separated the Forbidden City from the rest of the populace has been torn down to build a freeway.

As brown and orange sunsets have become common in most big cities and the summers get hotter every year, we will still say it has nothing to do with car fumes and just go on driving those SUVs! P.O. Box 580, New York, NY 10113 ©2003