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Beijing - Transportation
Bicylces in Bejiing
For longer stays and short excursions, a bicycle is a cheap and traffic jamless alternative. Broad bike paths coexist with almost all streets, but crossing at an intersection is a small adventure every time because practically no one abides by traffic regulations.
Bikes can be found at marketplaces from as low as RMB 200, depending on your negotiation skills. However, they'll rust very quickly and are not in the least comparable in quality to western ones, nor can a light-weight bicycle be found.
Subway in Beijing
Currently, there are three subway lines in Beijing. First is a loop line around the city center, then a connection from west to east. These two meet at two junctions. The third subway is new and is intended to connect the northern parts of the city. Leading up to the Olympic Games, more lines are expected to be constructed. A single trip on the two older lines costs 3 yuan; the new line is minimally more expensive. You buy tickets, which are controlled at the stairway to the platforms, at a counter in the station.
Buses in Beijing
Buses, which are mostly overfull, travel regularly throughout Beijing. There's a forest of signage at every bus stop. Signs display individual bus lines with every stop in both Chinese script and the western alphabet. Tickets are purchased from a conductor (not from the driver); just name your destination. Tickets cost 1 yuan and up.
Taxi rides are comfortable and inexpensive. You pay a flat fee of 10 yuan (ca. 1 euro) and, beyond a certain distance, 1.20 - 1.60 yuan per kilometer. Cheap taxis can be recognized quite simply: they have no antennas on the roofs. Taxi drivers speak little or no English, though this is supposed to change by the 2008 Olympic Games. If you don't speak Chinese, have your destination written down for you, or ask for a well-known landmark in the vicinity of your actual goal. Make sure the driver starts the meter, and act as though you know the way.