Project update by Valerie Gamao, Joyce Hujing, J.K., Yipei Shen, Elaine Zhou
Our recent focus has been understanding the ecosystem of the various different bicycle livelihoods — from providing services like recycling or parcel delivery, to providing goods and products like food or phone cases, and from legal status to illegal status.
First, we learned that a bicycle livelihood used to be, and has the potential to be very lucrative. The parcel delivery guy moved to Beijing specifically because of his job, and the person who collects recycled good reminisced the “good old days”, when one can make almost 10,000 RMB/month (a salary higher than that of a recent Tsinghua grad). It’s a service that the people enjoy and still enjoy using, considering that the recycling man oftentimes receives calls from a set of clients that he has.
Second, we learned that even though the pay is above average and working conditions relatively pleasant and flexible, some of our interviewees still did not tell their families about their jobs due to a sense of embarrassment. However, other individuals were more than happy to share with us their stories.