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Everyone in Shanghai is ride E-bike

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2009 AT 9:17PM

For the first trip I wanted to start with a normal pedal bicycle then hopefully return later to experience an E-bike. Here are some details of what I learned.

Cheap Bikes

There are millions of bicycles in Shanghai. It is easy to find a new bike for around $20. I went to the nearest bicycle shop which happened to be a "Giant" bicycle store. It did not take me long to pick out a little red folding bike. It is a basic little thing with only 1 gear, 16'' wheels and a steel frame. They even gave me a new lock for free. The cost was about $90 and I was a little embarrassed to pay so much for a bike.  I should have opted for the black one as red attracts too much attention.
 
On the Road
There are dedicated bicycle lanes in Shanghai. Sometimes there is some sort of divider separating the bike and automobile lanes, but not always. The terrain is very flat and not too windy. It would seem ideal for E-bike... 

In the USA there is a big discussion over e-bikes and pedal bikes co-existing in the same lane. In Shanghai "bike" lanes you can find bicycles, e-bikes, e-scooters, motor-scooters, razor scooters, motorcycles, push carts, tricycles, pedestrians cars and buses. Basically anything with wheels (or not) and can move forward (or not) can use the bike lanes. The differences in speeds can be quite big. Not only that, you will often find vehicles going in the opposite the direction of traffic!
 
Dangerous 
I would consider traffic to be rather dangerous. They have enormous intersections where buses and large trucks will not stop for anything. I saw a few crashes and one lady crashed into the back of my folder. I believe this happens because many people don't really have proper brakes.


Utility 
One type of E-bike that stands out is the "heavy-load" E-bike. It is a normal SLA battery e-bike with a strong frame and basic pedals. They are very heavy and sometimes have big motorcycle-like front forks.

There are so many variations and knockoffs, but they all look quite utilitarian. I saw one guy with 10 x 5 gallon filled water bottles loaded on the back. It is not uncommon to see these things with incredible loads.

 

Average rider
I had no trouble keeping up with traffic with my little folder. With only 1 gear, it was difficult to maintain speeds over 20mph, not to mention the air was not too fresh, at all. Most E-bike riders don't seem to be too concerned with high speeds. On the other hand, the gas-powered scooter punks will be happy to run you over to save a few seconds.
    
Very few people actually pedal for any length of time. Usually they just pedal to get it going and then ride scooter-style until they are forced to stop again. It does not appear that the average person has any desire to get exercise. E-bike is just a cheap way to go from on point to another.
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