Living in the Birmingham, the second largest city in the UK, I was used to seeing gridlocked roads filled with cars, lorries, vans and the odd motorbike or bicycle. I was used to being one of the cars in the centre of all that. As I was preparing to move to China one of the things that I dreaded most was the thought of not having a car. Of not being able to drive to a 24/7 supermarket to get a random snack I’m craving at 1am or go for a drive to clear my head on stressful days. On top of that was the terrifying thought of trying to navigate Chinese taxis and buses, and subsequently getting lost in China.
Yet, from almost the moment that I arrived in China I realised that there had been no need for me to worry as there was an option other than Chinese public transport and it was e-bikes. Everywhere I looked there were designated e-bike lanes filled with people on e-bikes of every colour, style and size I could’ve imagined. It was clear that I did not need to use buses or taxis unless I wanted to and within a week of being in China I was already back on the roads on my very own e-bike. I got my e-bike from a bike store which was popular with the other foreign teachers, as it was only a 5-minute walk from our apartments. There were so many options, but I fell in love with my little red bike as soon as I walked into the store. My e-bike cost only 1,350¥ (approximately £140 GBP/$190 USD), it came with a charger and a raincoat. Her name is Bridget.
Having an e-bike has given me a freedom I didn’t expect to have in China. I have used to my e-bike to travel to and from work and to explore so many different places around Jinan. There has been moments when I have loved the bike, the exhilaration of riding with the wind hitting your face around a foreign city, and there has been moments when I have hated the bike. For example, I used my e-bike back in November to travel to Jinan’s Forest Park. The park was beautiful, and it was an easy enough journey there on my bike. However, I did not realize how much the cold weather can zap the bike’s battery life and, on my journey, back to my apartment the battery died leaving me stranded over 2 hours (by walking) from home. Thankfully, the company I work for are amazing and within 30 minutes me and my bike had been rescued and I was back in my warm apartment hugging a cup of tea.
By using an e-bike rather than a conventional car you avoid having to worry about gas and traffic. E-bikes may sometimes seem dangerous and some of my friends in China have had all kinds of horror stories; batteries catching fire, holes appearing from nowhere in the e-bike lane, being hit by other bikes and cars, invisible kerbs causing people to take a tumble, etc. Despite these experiences we have never suffered any serious injuries, but we do have a wealth of funny stories and memories that will last a lifetime. The e-bikes of China give you the chance to go on adventures exploring Jinan with your friends by your side forming your very own, and just as cool, biker gang.