Walking in Shanghai

It was a good idea to start the trip in Taiwan, where I could gradually become accustomed to ancient Chinese traditions, such as driving on sidewalks.

With traffic as it is, scooters take advantage of any and all flat surfaces. Streets, sidewalks, countertops…it’s all fair game. And though vehicles don’t go through red lights, there is always a steady stream of cars turning right on red without stopping or slowing down, regardless of pedestrians. Thus, crossing on a “green man” reduces but does not eliminate one’s chance of getting splattered on the pavement.

Likewise, pedestrians in Shanghai don’t feel the need to confine themselves to the sidewalks, at least on side streets. They’re just as likely to meander through the outside lane while bicycles, scooters, and cars honk impatiently around them.

Taipei scooters

Outside of Hong Kong, the Chinese drive on the right side of the road, but if you only look one way as you step off the curb onto a one-way street, you’re taking your life in your own hands. Uni-directional signs do not to apply to scooters, which consider themselves pedestrians on wheels, and which zoom down either direction of a one-way street with the agility of a slalom skier and twice the velocity.

On wider streets there are lights for each half of the crosswalk. Make sure you’re looking at the right light. The first time I saw the green man at the opposite side a the intersection, I almost stepped into full-speed traffic on my side.

Because of the amount of time it takes to cross legally, the Chinese have mastered the art of walking halfway across the street when it’s clear and standing in the six inches of intersection where they won’t get hit. This requires nerves of steel, and may be why there are no fat people here.

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About sinestor

Originally from Los Angeles/Long Beach, California, I'm currently spending a year exploring the amazing world known as China. My main website is Every Day's a Holiday.

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