What’s the best way of getting around in a new city?
Many people would say public transit. And that is very true. If you are only going to live in the city for a short period of time, there isn’t any need of buying a car. Taking the public transit is cheap, environmentally-friendly, and convenient (sometimes). It is definitely the number one mode of transportation for many people.
But I have my own favourite means of transportation – cycling. I am a biking enthusiast. Back in Toronto, I ride to school everyday. I only take the bus in winter or when the weather is bad. Public transit in Toronto is quite expensive – CAD$3 per trip or CAD$106 a month for a metropass. Therefore, biking saves me a lot of money.
In Nanjing, taking the bus is much cheaper than in Toronto - only ￥2 per trip (roughly 30 cents in Canadian). However, traffic here is very bad right now. The whole city is undergoing construction to prepare for next year’s Youth Olympic Games. There is a construction site on pretty much every major road. Cars and buses are having a very tough time traveling around. As a result, many people choose biking over driving. In Toronto, cycling is only a recreational sport. People only do it on the weekends or in holidays. In China, it is a necessary means of transportation.
I bought a second-hand bike on my second day in Nanjing for ￥300. A very good deal, consider I have been using it almost everyday – going to work, going out to meet friends, shopping, sightseeing… When all the cars are stuck on the road and angry drivers honking at one another during rush hours, I can easily pass between them while a big smile on my face. Yes, I am evil.
However, biking in Nanjing has many risks. Do not expect any driver to yield to your right of way. You have to stay alert and stop at every turn to make sure it is clear. Moreover, bike theft is a huge problem here. You must lock your bike every time you are not present; even if you are only away for a few minutes. Do not count on luck. You will regret having done it when you find out your bike is gone.
Anyways, now I have grown emotionally attached to my bike. I think I am going to find a way to bring it back to Toronto in September.