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Silent Running

Chengdu: silent running
 

If you cycle in Chinese cities you’ll frequently be surprised by electric bicycles – the driver seated often with feet resting on pedals, but not pedaling, nor the sound of a motor, yet faster, silently and effortlessly drifting by.

What makes a bicycle a bicycle? Or a motorbike a motorbike? At what point do objects outgrow their original names? To what extent are new features, or the way we use an object constrained by its legacy features, expectations of how it should be used? And as bikes and cars increasingly switch from noisy-motor to silent-electric, how will this change the way pedestrians perceive traffic? The city?