Home > Announcement, Visual Stimulus > Today, self-propel as if your livelihood depended on it

Today, self-propel as if your livelihood depended on it

Walk. Bike. Catch a BATA bus.

Or, if you must drive, park a half-mile away from your destination and walk the last 10 minutes. Already at work and need to run an errand? Consider walking. Why? Because it’s September 22 and it’s World Car-free Day.

Yesterday, MyWHaT number cruncher Bill Palladino broke down the numbers for us. How much we drive? What are the costs? Today is the first day to do something about it.


If the numbers aren’t motivation enough, check out these car-free workers. The photo series below was sent to me by a few people (thanks). It’s an excellent reminder that our car-culture is a privilege and far from necessary. Millions of people make their living with their bicycle everyday whether it’s sunny, raining or snowing; there’s work to do and the bike is their tool.

Photography of bike laborers in China is by Alain Delorme.

Few who visit China don’t see something like this, although this type of scene has decreased in the showcase cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Instead, visitors mostly see traffic jams that make crossing the city a major decision. To view more images from this series, visit The Adventure Life’s post “The Mad Crazy Badass Delivery Bikes of China” or Alain Delorme’s website (loads a tad slow).

Movers waiting for a job, play an impromptu game on a street corner in Guangzhou Photo: GLHowe

It’s Not Special, It Just Is

I have to admit that over the years of living in and visiting China, seeing people moving things by bicycle became normal, if not expected. In fact, it was barely noticeable. Even moving companies for the wealthy did, and still do in many places, come to get the job done with a fleet of cargo bikes. It just makes the most sense in cities congested with automobiles and where an ethic of frugality is still valued. Why waste money if there isn’t a clear return? Labor is affordable and the bike is an appropriate, accepted means of transportation. Still, despite the rise of the automobile, the bike user continues on.

Many, not all, bicycle laborers like the ones in Delorme’s images are internal migrant workers who have made their way to a city for the promise of a job. It may allow them the ability to stay in the city long enough to find a higher paying job in a factory. Or, the money is enough for them to minimally live in the city and still send money back to their families in a remote village where the yuan goes a lot further. Or, it is their job of choice. And why not? There’s lots of work to do; get on a bike.

You’re bike commute today will be loads easier than these guys’ rides. Enjoy it.


Also, Happy Moon Festival.

  1. Tracey Kukla-Aleshire
    September 22, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Beautiful ride to work this morning. I stocked up on Vitamin D along the way.

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