Two years of commuting by bicycle in Shanghai

A mere 1500 miles in the last two years of commuting to work in Shanghai traffic madness.  20 minutes every morning and every evening, from Jing’An to Huaihai/Chongqing Lu via Changle Lu and Jiangning Lu last year, Shaanxi Lu this year.  Two years of getting yelled at by police men, dodging pedestrians, running red lights on occasion, getting soaked in the rain, dodging pedestrians who don’t look before they run into the road, jockeying with taxis, giving the finger to the oversized green construction dump trucks, rapping my knuckles on the side of buses that cut me off and drivers who don’t seem to value human life, traffic assistants who are never happy with where you’ve stopped at a red light and always give you the go-ahead 3 seconds before green, and did I mention dodging pedestrians?  Oh and dodging cyclists who ride slower than I walk, mopeds, electric scooters, motorcycles and taxis who will always pull in front of you when they see a fare waiting to pick up.

Number of taxis hit: 0 (but I almost rear-ended one)
Number of pedestrians hit: 1 (I feel bad, but she didn’t look before she ran into the road like a frightened deer. She’ll look from now on. She walked away. I still can’t sleep right after the accident.)
Number of times smushed by buses: 0 (not that they don’t try!)
Total number of accidents: 1 (on par with Chicago riding)
Amount of road rash: none!
Number of expletives hollered at selfish drivers: too many to count
Number of expletives thought in my head that I didn’t have time to holler: even more Number of miles ridden: 1500
Number of commutes: ~600
Amount saved on subway fare: 1800元 / US$300

Cycling in the city – especially a crowded one like this with crazy traffic patterns – means one thing: no matter how fast you can get moving, how good a jump you get off the green light and how well you shift through the gears, you’re going to have to stop even better.  Good brakes are king.  Fixie riders do not do well in this town.  You must have a fantastic front brake and even when you’re standing sprinting, have your hand on it, because that pedestrian eyeing the gap in traffic has no fear.  Which leads me to my photo, and the end of this article.  My two year old, Shimano brake pads from my front brake:

You might notice the snapped brake cable in between – that snapped the other day which caused me to finally get around to putting on new cable & brake pads.  (Don’t worry, I have a rear brake, and I didn’t coast into a red light when it snapped.)

Another two years, here I come!

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