There are different ways to buy a bike here. You can go to big supermarkets, you can go to the bike market, or you can stand around at a certain intersection where someone will walk up and offer to sell you (probably stolen) used ones. Probably stolen use ones are the cheapest, of course, and plentiful. I have yet to meet anyone who has not had at least one bike stolen (many people have lost two or more). As a soon-to-be bike owner, encouraging the local bike theiving fest didn’t come across as the most astute choice, so we headed for the bike market.
Originally they forcasted snow but there was a cold drizzle instead, and the market was not too lively. Still, James has been here 6 years and knows some of the shop keepers who still sell used bikes (most only sell new). We found exactly what I was looking for in about 2 minutes: big(ger) size, old, dirty, squeaky, black, but still in good(ish) shape, says “Flying Pigeon” on it, and cost 130 RMB (about $17). New it would have been about 400 RMB (about $53). The idea is to get a bike that won’t be the first (or 10th) choice of bike thieves, and one that won’t cost too much to lose if/when it does get stolen. I road it back about 10km from the bike market to our apartment. It’s not too hard to ride safe, but left turns are a little tricky. I just picked someone to follow, trying to make sure there’s no room for a taxi to nudge in between us, and that seemed to work. We’ll see.
Right now it’s literally freezing… it snowed all day Sunday and the sidewalks are caked in ice.