#110-043 Not heading for the beach. He’s delivering a truck tube. Within ten years one began to see the most extraordinary loads on bicycles, such as wide sofas, tables and dressers. In 1979 it was commonplace to see a mixed traffic of bicycles, horse carts, massive trucks and the occasional car that was either a taxi or a government official’s car.
#110-042 These frontage avenues were reserved for bicycles and pedestrians before cars and trucks took over. Now these frontage avenues are filled with parked cars. In some cases, they are obliterated by widening the street to an eight or ten lane boulevard.
#110-041 By the 1930s, the pedicab replaced the hand-pulled rickshaw. As China modernized, the motor taxis have pretty much swept away them away. However, some still remain, sometimes with a battery-powered electric motor.
#110-031a After 1979, the sound of hundreds of bicycle bells was heard in the streets. The dreadful Cultural Revolution was over. No more wholesale mobilizations of the population into frenzied rallies. The rampages of the Red Guards had ended. Peace reined and people were relaxed. It was evident everywhere except in some backward places that still had not gotten the word that it was a new day with new policies. In such places the tension was palpable; loud speakers, martial music and restrictions of every kind were perpetuated. There were no private autos yet but bicycles and trucks were becoming more available. In less than twenty years, cars will take over the streets with their noise and pollution. A new China was about to be created.
#110-027a These bicycles can carry heavy loads. This is a cargo of Chinese peppers similar to our bell peppers heading to market.
#110-022 In 1979 there was a general lack of refrigeration and almost no air-conditioning. Seeing raw meat exposed in the market was common. Soon China would build many coal-fired electric generators, a large number of new dams and also nuclear power plants.
#110-021a There are an endless variety of these homebuilt sidecars on city streets but not in the countryside. Farmers have no use for this kind of thing and would consider it coddling. The “little emperor” is enjoying a soda while the parent finishes grocery shopping. Bicycles were still considered a luxury and most of the population walked or caught the bus. The one-child policy was written into the 1978 constitution and the new regulations put into effect in 1980. Subsequently, a single male such as we see here became known as “the little emperor.” The emphasis in China on a male heir to continue the family line resulted in the current imbalance in the male to female ratio. Social problems for men unable to obtain a wife led to the relaxation of the one-child policy in the first decade of the twenty-first century.
#110-019 Finding a place to park your bicycle was a problem in 1979 in spite of the fact that the only vehicles were those owned by the government: including the bus in the background and the military jeep to the right. Today, as a result of a large population with improving living wages and affordable automobiles, parking in major cities has reached nightmare proportions.
I#110-017 In spite of the major streets in China being clogged with heavy traffic, the tricycle street sweeping machines remains in use on many of the calmer side streets. In large buildings such as airports, pedaled machines are used to polish the floors. White shirts are regarded as somewhat formal wear whereas colored shirts are considered to be sporty and informal. In the summer heat when coats are not worn, office workers tend to wear a collared white shirt.
#110-013a With dignity, this tricycle hauler is taking water hyacinth to the country. Pigs grow fat on it. In America this plant is considered a nuisance that clogs waterways. The Raleigh bicycle was imported from England and imitated in Chinese factories. My wife’s grandfather owned a factory that manufactured a Chinese Raleigh. In the communist era, factories produced heavier bicycles than the Raleigh and were just one speed. Those are the sturdy bicycles that are seen with big hogs tied over the back wheel being hauled to market. The three-wheeled chain-driven cycle may have been invented in Southeast Asia. The Japanese used bicycle wheels to make rickshaws, which then were introduced to China. The efficiency of the Pedi cab drove out the rickshaw. The vehicle here is called a banche, and in 1979 it was being used as an ambulance, cargo carrier and as a passenger vehicle in the countryside.
#100-015 For a small fee the attendant will hang a leather throng over your handlebars with a wooden tally attached. You are given a tally with a matching number and watch over your bike. Even so, people still lock their bicycles. Another similar parking lot can be seen in the left background.
#027-060a People were conveyed to hospitals on flatbed tricycles. In one of the remote villages I visited, by being tied to motorcycles.
#017-001 Typically, sidewalks are used for almost anything but pedestrians. Here bicycles sprawl while elsewhere there are light manufacturing being performed and vegetable stands and laundry spilling out onto the street blocking passage. These days automobiles use the sidewalks for parking. This little tricycle truck is ubiquitous for hauling passengers and freight. Many, like this one, are motor-assisted pedal vehicles.
#015-064 Dali in Yunnan is laid out typical of old China with a long main street and a city gate at each end. All Chinese cities and towns were laid out in a grid of streets surrounded by protective walls with guarded gates. The gates were opened at dawn and closed at dusk. Dali still has its gates but the walls are gone. The building overhang design offers shelter from rain. In 1979 bicycles were severely rationed. By the late 1980’s production increases made it possible for anyone to buy one if they had the money. A woman in those days wanted her fiancé to have a bicycle, a sewing machine and a washing machine. These items were rare in the marketplace after years of government investments focused on heavy industry.
#4051-D-877 This guy is snoozing while waiting for a fare. Pedicabs, once ubiquitous, soon became squeezed out of all the major cities by the automobile. Now they are seen only in the small rural towns of China. Pedicabs replaced the old rickshaws that were hand pulled by men running between two shafts and were a great improvement by mechanizing the transmission of foot power by means of geared sprockets. Pedicabs have a canopy that can be pulled up for rain protection.