If you are from San Francisco, you’ve seen someone being driven around in a Golden Gate Pedicab at some point. Maybe you’ve ridden in one yourself.
Let me tell you, it is a whole different story in Beijing.
The Pedicabs run on the streets with all the other cars and buses. They are tiny, have no protection, and dart in and out of where ever they need to go.
This doesn’t sound too bad until a massive truck or a city bus pulls up behind you.
And the honking starts.
people honk their horns in Beijing a lot.
I still can’t figure out when and why they honk because it seems so random. There is the expected honking when someone is in the way but they also honk at red lights, at people and at the air, from what I can tell.
So, I’m in this tiny, unprotected, zooming along little pedicab and, without warning, an incredibly loud air horn goes off behind me. A huge bus is about 2 feet from me on my left. I didn’t even notice it.
I almost jump out of my seat, and the pedicab, in utter surprise. The driver, on the other hand, is used to it and just ignores it and merrily keeps on driving. He continues to dart in and out of traffic, around cars trying to park, and attempts not to get us crushed by buses and trucks that are right beside us and wandering all over the road.
That is something else I’ve noticed: Driving here is like a school of fish with everyone merging, turning, jumping, flailing, and whatever other adjective you can think of at this moment. I have yet to see a car, bike, motorcycle, pedicab or truck actually attempt a jump yet but I’m pretty sure it will happen one day soon.
So, we are darting through traffic and then cut off onto a tiny little street that the pedicab barely can fit into without it hitting the walls on either side. People are walking around us and they seem to instinctively know when the pedicab is about to run them over and step aside without even looking back at us. It is very calm and serene and the driver slows down. I really enjoy the smaller streets because the neighborhoods are older and the buildings smaller with more local flavor.
We continue to cruise to my destination, about a 15 minute ride, and I pay the driver. Ten RMB, or about one dollar and fifty cents American, for a 15 minute ride and a new experience.
I’d say that I received so much more than the price and look forward to my next adventure in a pedicab!