Social distancing in Suzhou
Updated: Oct 30, 2020
It's taken over 2 years but as of last weekend, I've summoned enough courage to ride an 'ebike'. Mike's had one for 2 years and can fit both kids on the back. They're the transport of the city, the nation perhaps, and I feel I can't claim true China residency until I've experienced the electricity-powered street- weaving and honked my way through traffic with visa down and the wind 'neath my hair.
I tried out two bikes. After deciding on the model, the salesman asked which colour I would prefer and took me to the supposed range of colour choices in the bike I thought I'd chosen. Not scrutinising the bikes at all, ( I'd be more successful at discriminating between two dried lentils than 2 ebikes), I pointed to the one in mercury and we headed upstairs with the receipt to collect the bike. Emily and I briefly detoured enroute to find some sun glasses. Surprised to discover Mike angrily raising his voice in a confrontation with the salesman, it appeared he had been sold the wrong bike, a cheaper version than the model we thought we had bought. After a few minutes of arguing, the salesman remorsefully took us back to the show room and to the range of bikes in the model I'd actually chosen. This time I chose a light blue and rode off with the cushion and helmet they'd thrown in for free as an apology.
Despite it having a maximum speed of 25 kph, it feels great to have some autonomy over my direction of travel again, having kissed driving (amongst other things, such as my job), goodbye 3 years ago in our move to China and relying almost soley on public transport, ( and a little cycling), since. Quite worried I'm going to crash, I feel I've blended in quite well with the local traffic scene, with generous use of my horn to yell at all the surrounding bikes to mean: ' HEY, WATCH OUT, I'M HERE, YEP, COMING UP BEHIND YOU, WATCH OUT, HEY, INCASE YOU DIDN"T CATCH THAT LAST HONK, I"M RIGHT BEHIND YOU, DON'T YOU DO ANY MOVES NOW!'
Anyway, its been such a horrible day, I think I'll sign off now.