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NonPolluter
26 February 2011, 1058
How did Chinese ebike escooter and emotorcycle makers manage to sell 150 million ecycles, while we're apparently trying to reinvent the wheel?

Parts of this video are hilarious

Understanding Shanghai Traffic: Lesson 4 - Avoid Traffic, Take the E-bike!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvfpUoLcvFo


What can we learn from this?

podolefsky
26 February 2011, 1136
Good question. Riding bikes for transportation is much more a part of Chinese culture than American culture.

Most of those ebikes and scooters are 150-500W, or about 1/4-2/3HP...they're slow and dorky looking, not exactly "American". I live in Boulder, CO, probably one of the most eco-crazy cities in the country, we have an ebike and scooter shop (owned by a Canadian of course). I still don't see a lot of them around. It's frustrating - but, my bike gets a lot of attention...it doesn't fit people's preconceptions about EVs (slow and dorky).

So, can either change our culture, or change the technology. My opinion, it needs both, but changing the technology is a lot easier.

chef
26 February 2011, 2308
That's pretty funny. And that's the norm. It's not like he scoured the nation looking for oddball situations. It happens every day everywhere.

China has more people, so even if the same % of people rode bikes, they'd have a higher absolute figure. There are more big cities in China than the US (population million+ per city). Higher density tends to make cars less attractive. The Chinese population overall is much poorer. I think it's not uncommon for people to have to live off of $1k/yr. If a car is out of financial reach, the cheapest alternative is 2-wheelers.

I've noticed that cars & 2-wheelers in China have an uncanny ability to avoid each other in what we might consider the scariest situations. Hurtling down the highway within arms reach. Bumper to bumper traffic with scooters weaving in & out. Drivers are just more aware of 2-wheelers.

Socially, there's not (yet) the machismo with vehicles that we have in the states. The typical US driver is obsessed with the vehicle's image. Harley Ds are fickle oil-leaking contraptions but they look & sound "manly" and people pay through the nose for them. Chinese are much more practical about transportation if only due to financial limitations.