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THE WHEELED KING of the Japanese streets is the bicycle. It is the best bet for making time on the crowded and narrow streets. All the Japanese, young and old, ride them. With uncanny precision, the bikes dart in and out of traffic. They are steered around cars, taxis, streetcars, and rickshaws with astounding ability and agility. The bicycle is the number one foe of the pedestrian in Japan. It comes from out of nowhere and even faster becomes a blur down the highway. In the hurried meantime the pedestrian jumps madly, screams savagely, tosses packages wildly, and inevitably enters into a state of panic. Very often very little of the bicycle or the rider is visible. All one sees is a moving mass of paraphernalia storming down the road. The bikes often double as delivery trucks or moving vans and, to fashion an understatement, they are loaded. It is a common sight to see the two-wheeler spinning along with boxes, barrels, bottles, blankets, et cetera, et cetera, and et cetera lashed to its feeble framework. Because of this, the serviceman comes to eye the bicycle with a new respect. When he gets back home, where others use the bike to deliver their papers or take their joy rides, he puts it to good use by Asiatically loading it down with everything, as they say, but the kitchen sink. 102
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