Dispatches from Abroad: Truckin’ with Trikes

I’ve been in China for over seven weeks now, and as a people-watcher and photographer, nothing has caught my eye more than the panoply of three-wheeled vehicles meandering the roads. When I was a college student in the late 1970s studying Chinese, there were virtually no cars in China; just shy of 40 years later, BMWs outnumber bicycles in many Chinese cities, and the two-wheelers once pushed by peds on pedals are now mostly electrified. But through it all, the trikes remain, anachronistic work-horses that fill the gaps between bikes and BYDs, Vespas and Teslas.

I spent a few hours this afternoon—my last in Beijing before I move on to Kunming tomorrow morning—walking the streets and alleys, photographing three-wheelers, and reflecting on stasis and evolution in transportation systems.

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