Bicycles in Sichuan (Photo by cookieevans5/Flickr)
Twenty years ago, a slideshow on transportation in China wouldn't include much more than two wheels. Now it's hard to set foot in a newly paved street without nearly getting hit by packs of automobiles, fueled as much by cheap gas as by Beijing's economic dependence on the auto industry (also reliant on China's auto yen: GM, which is still selling cars like hot dumplings in the Middle Kingdom).
But even as the expanding middle class drove car sales up by 28 percent last year, only 5 percent of Chinese own cars (compared to around 90 percent in the US); the rest rely on a panoply of other options, from the humble (it was a Long March that launched Mao's revolution) to the grandiose (the train to Lhasa, or a constant stream of new subways) to the downright silly-looking (tricycle-carts so loaded with stuff they can tip over backwards). These and other modes of transit may not brake China's automobile zeal. But they may be able to slow and redirect it before the country makes the same mistakes we did.