Shanghai Dreaming

by tillieandcoco

Dear Tillie,

the Gehl Architects’ Chennai India video reminds me so much of living in…

Photo taken from the Pearl Tower overlooking the Huangpu River and Puxi

Shanghai! 

The city is so expansive. I just couldn’t comprehend how it stretched on forever in every direction. In keeping with the architectural theme here is a photo from the Urban Planning Museum in Shanghai

Scale model of Shanghai

Cycling is one of the main methods of transportation in Shanghai and the city actually accommodates cyclists very well. The bike lanes are enormous- often bigger than car lanes- and separated from traffic on the busiest streets with metal dividers. At major intersections there are Traffic Controllers (usually women for some reason) who direct the cyclists when to stop, turn etc. One of my favourite things- outside major shopping centres there is always plenty of bike parking (perpendicular to the curb unlike the parallel parking here in Sydney), you lock your bike up and pay the attendant (I think it was one yuan) to watch your bike. They give you a little receipt which you have to present to be able to unlock your bike and ride off when you return. And of course I felt thoroughly safe when riding in Shanghai.

Although the traffic is throbbing drivers never intimidate cyclists. They sit and wait for the riders to pass before turning, they rumble along slowly behind you until there is enough room to overtake, I never once had a horn honked at me! At first the traffic looks crazy, cars, bicycles, motorbikes and scooters going every which way, but you soon fall in with the flow. And there is a real flow to the traffic. I used to get very Zen and tell my husband “You have to be like water! Go with the flow. If there’s an obstacle in your way just flow around it.” and it was true!

I remember the feeling of riding around Shanghai for the first time. It was the first bike I owned as an adult and I felt FREE! I think this photo illustrates it perfectly. The wind in my hair, smile on my face- bliss!

We rode everywhere! When we moved back to Sydney it seemed so silly not to ride! How did we overlook this wonderful form of transportation as adults? Fun, healthy, cheap, green, and with such a sense of freedom! So we promptly bought bikes and continued our cycling lifestyle here in Oz.

Here’s a few more photos of bikes in Shanghai. I just wish I had some of riding in the heavy traffic (I guess we were too busy riding to take photos then) and some of the crazy things people transported on bikes (whole pigs, a refrigerator, and a double mattress come to mind). I myself once rode home from Ikea with an outdoor table and two stools all on my bike. I truly felt like a local.

Fruit and plant sellers with their produce on their trikes

Riding to Wazza’s office (look how wide that contra flow bike lane is!)

Heading home from the French Concession

Riding behind some unidentified form of transport…

Oh yes, it’s a bike!

A shot out the window of our first apartment- see the metal fence dividing the bike lane from other traffic 

And last, but certainly not least, a nice ugly shot of me with my eyes closed so you can see the faithful cyclists riding around in the rain and snow in the middle of winter

Somewhere in the depths of my (or my husband’s) computer there is a video he took of riding to work during a flood in Shanghai. As soon as I find it I’ll post. You wont believe it!

Love Coco xx

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