Today my theme is bikes.
I live in Beijing, China, and we have a lot of bikes. Bikes everywhere, and it is excellent.
Excellent for many reasons. From things such as how good it is for the environment (hopefully they all get recycled) to how magic it is to see how a vast population manages to just get along.
Let me tell you what I mean.
Firstly, the bikes seem to move in harmony with people. There appears to be gracefulness in how it all operates. It feels to me like people are given priority, then pedal bikes, then electric bikes and then everything else. There is no anger, or ugly scenes of competitiveness as this all collides on a tight crossing, like the crossing at Sanlitun Village in the heart of Chaoyang district.
People give way to each other in an almost hypnotic fashion, like ants or bees swarming in unison. It is impressive.
Nowhere is this demonstrated the best than when you see a one-way bike system being used in two-ways by everyone. If this were in the UK, there would be riots because people wouldn’t yield in the same way.
I get it. It might be a different custom thing build over the history of each of the nations. It is no problem for me. It is just lovely to see people get along with so much patience, dignity, and respect for each other.
Where this is let down a bit is when people park up the bikes. Especially the rental bikes. I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of people in Beijing. The people who look for a nice sensible place to park the rental bike after using it and the people who look for the most stupidest places.
Today, for instance, I saw a girl cycle down the slope of an overpass, and as she got to the bottom of the hill, she stopped. Dismounted the bike and then parked it side-on at the entrance/exit of the overpass. This meant that only a tiny gap was left for people, bikes, and even scooters that use the overpass to get by. They all had to go around this awkwardly parked bike.
Now, as I walked towards this parked bike, I could see that no one, absolutely no one, was going to take the time to move this bike. People just slowed and worked around it.
I mean, seriously.
What was going through my head as I got closer was another bike story that I had seen on youtube a few days earlier. I had watched an online video of a time when Keanu Reeves bike was backed into by a woman in a car. The paparazzi had caught it all and waited for the Keanu to come back. The women claimed to the paps that it wasn’t her fault, and the cops were called to the scene. Who knows who called the cops? But they had arrived before Keanu had got back to his bike, and it seemed like a set-up to cause a scene. The woman and the accident were real, the cops real, but the fact they were all put together seemed to me to be the work of the paparazzi.
Anyway, Keanu comes back, and everything is tense as the paps get their cameras ready to snap a pic of an angry Keanu, and what he did was none of that crazy shit. He spoke to the lady in the car to make sure she was alright. He told the cops if his bike started, he would be just fine, and no charges or anything was necessary. He demonstrated fantastic patience, started his motorcycle and drove off like the cool m*******ing guy that he is.
So when I walked towards this stupid bike that was causing a complete mash-up, I thought to myself… ‘Be more Keanu.’
So I calmly and carefully walked up to the bike, lifted it away from the congestion and, in doing so, unblocked the entrance/exit.
I got a couple of thank you’s and a honk of the horn from a guy on a scooter wearing bunny ears. (A bunny branding thing)
I also got a new saying to keep myself calm in moments of stress.
‘Be more Keanu.’