To continue my story about the traffic ticket I got yesterday; I am going to tell the story of traffic control in Shanghai. There are obviously many interesting ways to keep the traffic, making the roads in the city a maze land for drivers.
The Expensive Plate
Raising the expense to get a car number plate is one of the most significant ways. Although there is hot debate in China around the policy that controls the number of cars by raising the cost of ownership, the car plate price is still going high. A car plate costs at least 38500 RMB in August. The price went down for a while in Sept at lowest success bid of 2800 RMB. I don’t know the lowest successful bid price of this month – the bid was held yesterday.
The Single Passes
Many roads in downtown Shanghai is single pass only. For example, the Tian Yao Qiao Rd. near where I work is a single pass road – cars can only goes from north to south. I bet the number of single pass road is almost the same as the two way roads in downtown Shanghai.
Unfortunately, the maps widely available do not mark these roads. Even the maps specially designed for drivers cannot effectively mark these roads. The rapid change in the road infrastructure force the tourism map to publish a new copy every three month to reflect the road changes, not to mention the driver’s map. The road, for example, the Nandan Road, opening for one direction only will be changed to open to the opposite direction without notice. I felt it so hard to survive in the city.
There are four types of cars that are restricted in the city.
- Cars driven by new drivers (after get the driver’s license within one year) – I am in this category.
- Cars with plates issued outside Shanghai. (It can be tell from the number on the plate)
- Empty taxi
- Cars with 1200cc or smaller engines
These cars cannot use the elevated highway in the rush hours (maybe from 7:30 – 9:30, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM). So it is impossible to use the newly built Lupu bridge. I can only use the Dapu Road Tunnel, the Nanpu Bridge and the Yanan East Rd. Tunnel. (see the map)
Left Turn Forbidden
At many intersections, left turn is forbidden. At the intersection between Cao Bao Road and Long Wu Road, for example, there is even a rule that cars can only turn left or right at the intersection, but cannot go straight forward. Many car drivers get the tickets at this place – I think not many people, especially for new drivers, can understand this strange rule.
Thank God that that there are not many “right turn” forbidden roads yet. :-)
The Placement of the Signs
How can I get to know all these rules? I like to talk with taxi drivers and ask their suggestions. Guess what? They told me, “You have to keep several hundreds RMB in your pocket for one year when you drive. When a policeman stops you and give you a ticket, you know that you have done something wrong. Remember it and avoid the mistake.” “You have to go through this painful time in Shanghai. There is no shortcut.”
Poor me. What they suggested is very reasonable. There IS a sign saying the rule of “Odd weekday for odd numbers and even weekday for even numbers” at the Chongqing North Road, but if I don’t drive onto the road, I cannot see the sign. After I see the sign, I also see the policemen standing below the sign. When I see the policeman, I already see him pointing his finger to me and asked me to stop. :-( Learn from mistake is an inevitable way to drive in Shanghai.
The traffic sign forbidding the new car drivers are placed at the entrance of the elevated highways. I bet when drivers see the plate, it is already to late to change the lane to the other one leading to the surface road.
The Roads Are not Straight
The road map of Shanghai is already a big maze – even for people reading the maps. The roads are designed to be curve. It is hard to say the direction of a road. For example, the Hua Shan Road goes north from Xujiahui, and then goes directly eastward, then goes to north again. So in Shanghai, turning right twice does not mean you are returning to the original direction. Many times, I am confused to see the two roads has more than one interactions. Haha. It is so interesting.
New Job – Road Guide!
At the entrance of all major express ways to Shanghai, such as the A8 (from Hangzhou) and A11 (from Nanjing), you will see a lot of people with a new occupation – Road Guide. They hold a big advertisement plate saying: Road Guide – 10 RMB or 20 RMB.
Guess what service they offer? They can get onto your car and help you to get through the big maze of the city. Many drivers from outside Shanghai will hire a guide to go with them. The service fee for the guide certainly is compensated by eliminating the traffic tickets and the time spend on the wrong way.