How to avoid traffic in Beijing, by Kimberley Adda

Welcome to Beijing, one of the largest, most populated cities in the world. Though the Chinese have basically mastered public transportation, and are trying to limit the number of cars circulating around the city, traffic is still a huge problem at pretty much all times of the day.

Knowing how easily frustrated I can get, I told myself “be a wolf, not a sheep” (surely that’s in some awful action hero/sappy war movie?), I decided to buy a second-hand electric scooter. I don’t have a drivers’ license but I figured, how hard could it be? It’s just like a giant bicycle without pedals… There’s a certain appeal in being able to weave in and out of traffic, to not stop at red lights, and to drive on the sidewalks/wrong side of the road when in a hurry.

I would recommend buying an electric scooter if you possess the following qualities:

  • You are willing to risk your life on a daily basis
  • You are a master of Mario Kart
  • You have minimal road rage
  • You don’t feel pain and you don’t scar.

If you do indeed possess these qualities, then by all means! Go get your bike! It goes without saying to check brakes, lights, tires, accelerator, kickstand and battery (60 volt bike: 1300 – 1600CNY for a second hand bike) before handing over the cash.

There are more ways to stay entertained on the Beijing roads. A few of my favourite games include A) Racing random people, B) Never letting your feet touch the ground, C) Practising your Chinese cursing :)

To put it into perspective, if I were to take a bus to work (a 6 km distance from home to classroom) it would take me 40 minutes: Walk to the bus stop, wait for the bus, stop at every stop for a million people to get on, get off the bus, walk to the school. On my scooter, it takes a whopping 12 minutes, door to door.

I say get out your leather jackets, your boots, your Raybans, and feel the wind in your hair (at a max speed of 50km/h)!

NB: You can also decide to buy a gas scooter. Much faster, much more expensive, and legally questionable for foreigners to own…

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