Traffic Rules in Shanghai – Part II

This post is to continue the discussion on Traffic Rules in Shanghai.

Check what my star reader Carsten shared with us on safety in Shanghai. The original comment was posted under my article Just Few Steps Away from My New Car:

About safety :

All people in China should be happy for every little effort the authorities do for the safety. More than 100,000 people get KILLED in the traffic every year in China (and nobody knows how many gets injured).

It goes just SOOOO slowly to make even the slightest improvements.

A couple of months ago Shanghai introduced a new traffic regulation that emphasizes the right for the pedestrians (walking people) to cross the street at the pedestrian crossings (the wide white lines in a band across the road).

I can see now that the traffic assistants are trying to teach people to stop for the red lights, but it is difficult when every bus or taxi just plows through the masses, inside and outside these crossings. And they have no right to punish the violators.

I hope that there soon will be introduced a 100 RMB fee to cars for driving through a not free pedestrian crossing, and same fee for the pedestrians crossing the streets outside of the crossings, or crossing for red light.

The authorities can very well use all the advertisement TV’s there are put up everywhere to teach the people some traffic manners and of the punishment fee.

In USA the cars can (like in China) turn right, BUT ONLY IF IT CAN BE DONE WITHOUT ANY DISTURBANCE.

In Europe – NO way! Wait until the green light turns on.

That clearly avoids the “can I, or can I not…?” situations when turning right for red light.

I can say, that a pedestrian in northern Europe always have the right, then follows the bicycles and cars. THE WEAK PART HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY.

This is mainly because it is not even possible for pedestrians and bicycles to get a license to prove their traffic behavior.

But the ones with engines does.

Jianshuo, 3 questions, how is the policy in China of this right turn business ?

What did they actually teach you in the driving school about the relationship between you as a driver and the pedestrians?

And last, did they emphasize the importance of keeping distance ?

I like to know this, because I like to KICK the F…… cars that nearly run me down from behind, even I cross for green light and inside the right zones !

Anyway, I’m the lucky one, because I’m 191 cm, so the cars will get hurt if they hit me, and that makes most cars willing to stop for me, hehehe ;-) !

And – put on the seat belt EVERY SINGLE time before you turn the key in your car.

I have made it a demand for all passengers going with me to put on the belts before I put the car in gear. I don’t want to be responsible for their sudden death, even it’s not my fault.

“I drive perfectly” as all says, but unfortunately all the others are driving with their head in another place than the traffic, so I have protect me and my dears against the lunatics that kills.

Check this page : http://www.disastercenter.com/traffic/

and to get more knowledge, download the WHO report (summary) in Chinese or English : http://www.who.int/world-health-day/2004/infomaterials/world_report/en/

Thanks for Casten’s observation for Shanghai’s traffic condition! It is true. I have been a pedestrian (the weak party) in Shanghai for 9 years (and will always play the pedestrian role in the future) and been a driver (the stronger party) for almost one year. The change of roles helped me to understand the behavior of both pedestrians and driver in the big melting-pot city. I strongly believe the chaos of traffic in Shanghai is because the percentage of people who can drive is too low and majority of pedestrians do not understand how the cars work so they follow the majority.

Let me answer Carsten’s three questions first.

How is the policy in China of this right turn business ?

In China, if you can turn right at anytime unless there is a red right arrow prevent you to do that. (Disclaimer: Do not take this as official traffic rule – I didn’t got full score in my traffic rule exam and may be seriously wrong). Sometimes, the right turn lane are combined with forward lane. At red light, if you don’t want foward cars before you, you can safely turn right. If there is car waiting for the red light to go forward, as common sense indicates, you need to wait the cars before you to leave before you can turn right. :-D

What did they actually teach you in the driving school about the relationship between

you as a driver and the pedestrians?

Well. To be honest, they didn’t teach me anything about it. My mentor has more than 30 years of driving experience, but he couldn’t speak mandarin well and didn’t receive good education. He was paid very badly. I don’t know how much he makes for teaching us, but when I told him I graduated from Shanghai Jiaotong University and am working for a famous foreign company, he commented: “Oh. Boy. You are so promising. You must be able to earn 2000 RMB per month!”. Then I knew what very high salary means to him.

Enough about my nice mentor. I just want to say, many mentors in driving school do not care anything about relationship, philosophy or anything that are not directly related to the police tickets. If the policeman do not award you a ticket, you can do anything.

Unlike mentors, the traffic rules do specify the behavior of a vehicle. I reviewed the rule again with Wendy when she prepared for her exam. Here are some:

  • When a car comes to a pedestrian crossing, the car has to slow down to give way to pedestrians.
  • If there are pedestrians on the pedestrian crossing, the car has to STOP before the line to allow people to pass.
  • Cars have to give ways to pedestrians even the pedestrians are not on a pedestrian crossing.
  • Drivers are 100% responsible for any traffic accidents involving a pedestrian, UNLESS they can prove enough attention has been paid to avoid the accident.

Please note the last one. This means, if someone run into a highway (where cars drive at 120 km per hour), and a car hit the him/her, the car driver still has to be partly responsible for it. This is the major change from the traffic rule of the last version. In that version, the pedestrians are 100% responsible for any accident if they do not use pedestrian crossings AND a pedestrian crossing/bridge/tunnel can be found with 30 meters. I support the change.

How well do I do? Well. I have to say, I am trying to follow the rule but often failed. It is because, the cars behind never expect the car in front to slow down (not to mention stop) at pedestrian crossings. For many times, when I see someone cross the street at the pedestrian crossing, I slowed down to give ways to them, the car behind almost hit my car and the driver honked angrily as if I am the bad driver. After several time, I found I was a trouble maker on the road, and what I do (to slow down) is many times more dangerous than rushing onto the pedestrian crossing. Of cause, to do so, you also need to honk to get the pedestrians’ attention and they will run away. Oh. Forgive me! This is how I can survey in this either hit the pedestrian or hit by car behind business.

The same is for the STOP sign. Nobody stops or expects others to stop. If you stop, the next car may hit yours.

Did they emphasize the importance of keeping distance?

Simple. Yes. The emphasized, just as they emphasized the STOP sign. Look at the EU vs Italy flash. The Yes! No! is exactly describing the situation in China. In the flash, the scenarios or turning right, stop, and distance are repeating itself in Shanghai everyday and in every corner.

21 thoughts on “Traffic Rules in Shanghai – Part II

  1. Carsten

    And what will you do if your car hit me and then I hit your car in return ?

    That would be fair.

    I think it is much more dangerous that you rush into the crossing, as the walking people gets injured just at 2-3 km/h. The car can take a lot more.

    Someody knows where to go for wake the autorities up (before I get killed) ?

    Maybe an impossible task; I have seen the law below, and I don’t know if it is valid in Shanghai :

    “Drivers of power-driven vehicles who stop at pedestrian crossings are liable to a fine of up to five yuan, or a warning.” – Article 40 of the Beijing Traffic Laws.

    Take a look at

    http://www.dumblaws.com/laws.php?site=laws&cid=36

    and get more laughs !

  2. James

    IT IS NOT THE TRAFFIC LAWS NEED TO BE HARDENED IN ORDER TO MAKE DRIVERS AND PEDESTRAINS TO FOLLOW THE RULES. IT IS THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES SHOULD REALISE TO GIVE WAY TO OTHERS, RATHER THAN EAGERLY STAND IN THE WAY. HERE ARE TWO SCENARIOS I WILL DO WHEN I’M IN SHANGHAI, IF I AM CROSSING THE STREET PROPERLY, AND THE CAR DOESN’T STOP, I BASICALLY WILL MAKE THE CAR STOP, I DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT IT, HAVE TO TEACH THESE DRIVERS A LESSON, LEARN THE WESTERN PRACTICES SINCE SHANGHAI IS BECOMING ONE OF THE WORLD CITIES. IF I AM A DRIVER, I BASICALLY WILL GIVE WAY TO PEDESTRAINS WHO CROSS ROAD IN THE RIGHT WAY, OR SCARE THE PEDESTRAIN TO TEACH HIM/HER LESSON TO GO AND CROSS PROPERLY NEXT TIME.

    IT IS JUST DAMN MAKES ME FEEL ANGRY TO HOW PEOPLE DRIVE IN SHANGHAI, THEY AIN’T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE, SERIOUSLY, YOU HAVE A LICENCE BUT YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE. THAT IS THE CASE FOR ALL DRIVERS IN CHINA. THEY FEEL THAT THEY ARE PRIDE OF THEMSELVES THAT THEY CAN DRIVE, THEY HAVE A CAR, BUT IN GUTS, THEY AIN’T KNOW WHAT GOOD DRIVING SKILLS ARE. IT’S JUST A SHAME…

  3. Carsten

    Jianshuo, sorry, a long one again :

    True, James. I guess that you are from abroad.

    Fact is, that the people of China cannot educate themselves what to do or not.

    Things have been going too fast.

    The old and well worthy dignity of China is completely lost when we talk traffic.

    5000 years of history, beauty and grace are lost in these times.

    The authorities must be awaken, our lives are at stake. REALLY !

    The ONLY way is to introduce HEAVY fines for violations, exactly like in western countries. And to do it NOW.

    Who to contact ? Please help me, before I or someone dear to me dies !

    I have tried to find a shanghainese city authority homepage for this subject, but most of these are about how many improvements they have done; they are not so eager to get input from common “People”.

    I understand from Jianshuo that he honestly wanted to do right at the beginning of his career as a driver, but the other street bullies scared him to perform the “terrorism driving” too !

    Who shall begin improvements, foreigners or the Chinese ? Come on, China…!

    I may want to get a chinese driving license, mainly to be able to buy a quite useless car with a good rear end, and do some “correct driving” (I know how),

    no matter WHO bumps into me.

    I hope the violator will be a young and nice ignorant bitch drivin’ a Ferrari (can actually be a source to lots of money, hehe ;-)

    Dear licensed driver in China (motorcycle, car, truck) :

    Now you have the power to KILL another living human being.

    That can be a child, your sister, a pregnant woman, a family’s only hope, or a family father.

    If you do the killing, then you will have a lot of regrets, anger and shame to deal with for the rest of your life ! The dead’s families will surely hate you for your reckless driving.

    China Daily has this

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-04/12/content_322695.htm

    Please read the comments too.

    Cutout from the text : “According to research, conducted by the Medical School of Jinan University in Guangzhou, the figure for all traffic accidents in China in 2003 was more than 770,000 with 110,000 people losing their lives and 560,000 injured. The most important factor was still the negligence of drivers. Statistics showed that last year some 78.5 per cent of the deaths, about 86,000 people, were caused by improper driving. According to WHO statistics, every year more than 1.2 million people are killed in traffic accidents, with many more injured who will have lifelong physical handicaps. Most of the deaths will still occur in developing countries like China and although most of the people have to walk or use a bicycle or motorcycle because they cannot afford a private car, the increasingly busy roads will make them more vulnerable to death or injury. Punishment for negligent drivers is said to be too lenient due to a failure of the relevant laws to catch up with current conditions.

    IS THAT NOT SERIOUS ? How many licensed drivers are there in China ?

    Not many, and they are responsible for 10% of all accidents in the world.

    Next killer is likely to be you, if you have a driving license.

    Now you know, so look beyond your nose tip when you turn the key.

    Please drive safely !

  4. Carsten

    My girlfriend has been in Shanghai for 7 years and she thinks I’m stupid to try to make any improvements of the prevailing rules…

    Tough work, when even my dearest don’t believe that anything can be changed here !

  5. bigbro

    Categories of things to improve:

    (1) Stricter laws and regulations (including heavier fines and jail terms);

    (2) More forceful, effective and across-the-board enforcement (avoid corruption);

    (3) Education of the drivers (beyond driver’s tests);

    (4) Education of the pedestrains (against 5000 years of on-foot culture).

    I would suggest that (2) and (3) are the most urgently needed. (3) and (4) will take a long time and much effort but hopefully will be the fundamental things that would bring about change.

    How does the situation in Shanghai compare with that in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and other major cities?

  6. Shanghai Slim

    I wish it could be as easy as educating drivers and pedestrians, but I think we are talking about a deeply-seated cultural value that will be difficult to change. Chinese, at least compared to westerners, place much less value on anything that happens to people they don’t personally know.

    You see this exhibited in countless ways every day: customer service attitudes, queuing behavior, drilling apartment walls late at night or at 5 am, blocking crowded sidewalks, mobbing elevator doors, etc. One of the most dramatic manifestations is the phenomenon of a crowd of spectators gathering to look at someone who is injured or in trouble. Fifty or even a hundred people may gather, but often no one will help the person — because the person is a stranger.

    On the streets, I think this attitude explains things like drivers mercilessly cutting each other off, running red lights, taking up two lanes, refusing to yield to pedestrians, and of course: the endless, mindless horn honking.

    I really love China and Chinese people, but I have to say I think it is shameful to see a shuffling, stooped old woman trapped between lanes of speeding traffic because no driver will wait – not even three or four seconds – to let her finish crossing the street.

    The same drivers would wait to let their own grandmother cross the street, but someone else’s grandmother? Forget it. She’s a stranger. HONK! HONK!

  7. Shen

    To WJS and Carsten,

    I am not comfortable when i read Carsten’s recent articles. I am a Chinese American. I still deeply love China although i saw sooo many things can be improved to make it a better country. But when i read Carsten’s comments like “…people of China cannot educate themselves…”, “…well worthy dignity of China is completely lost when we talk traffic…”, “…you Chinese don’t even know what happened in Tibet…”, I am pissed off.

    Carsten labels himself as a civilized westerner here to help/teach China. But the westener world does not only include Carsten’s hometown(i don’t even know where is he from and whether it is as civilized as he thought anyway). Traffic is a major problem in most of metro areas around the world. In CA and New York, you will see much more aggressive drivers driving much bigger fatal cars.

    Local newspaper and media address the traffic problem everyday. But i never saw any Carsten-like comments such as ” .. well worthy dignity of New York is completely lost when talking traffic ..”

    Recently, US justice department launched an investigation on New Jersey State Police since it seems the NJ police stopped more cars with black drivers than other race. We take racial profiling seriously. Painting certain race driver are more aggressive is not only wrong, but also a crime here in US.

    Carsten, when we address proplem, we adrress it as a problem of its own. We don’t address it as a problem for a certain race or origin.

    Carsten, we all welcome your constructive comments here. Countries around world all have problems: drug problem in America, racilism in some EU countries, etc.

    Labeling yourself a westerner does not make yourself a civilized person, the ways you talk, deal with things, and contribute back to the community do.

    Shen

  8. bigbro

    Oh, it is very much a matter of education, even based upon Slim’s analysis/argument. Nobody expects the education to be easy, but bitching ‘n moaning will not solve the problem (neither will racial sling or counter sling, so be cool). True this problem may be related to value but it is also a generic traffic phenomenon in any populous and old metropolises, think Boston, New York, not to mention Rome.

    I was advocating engineering plus discipline plus education. What else can you do? We do not want to be so uncivil as to attack or kill the pedestrains or drivers, right? You cannot hit people physically so you hit their wallet and brain. The educational process is extremely difficult, requires painful persistence, involves everyone and every party, but the effort will eventually pay off. For example, I can envision a campaign where every willing driver (starting from YOU) puts on a rear bumper sticker (Oops, are there any rules in Shanghai against slogans on cars?) saying in Chinese: “I brake if you tailgate me” or “Warning: I brake suddenly for pedestrains” or “Kiss my a** and ala WILL sue you” etc. Slowly over time these will catch up and raise the awareness level of the drivers. This is what I mean by education.

    By the way, I used the phrase engineering to include laws, rules, fines, and also road (and crossing) design. As hinted above, though, corrective road reconstruction would be more difficult to implement in older/cramper areas of the cities.

  9. Carsten

    To Shen

    I guess you have been to China, so you know the conditions here.

    I come from Denmark in northern Europe.

    Sorry for my sentence of “China cannot educate themselves”, I just mean at the present stage in the traffic. I hope it will change, of course.

    China HAS dignity, but the dignity is definitely lost when it comes to traffic.

    I’m sorry to say that in USA the old cultures was slaughtered several hundred years ago, and the dignity died then.

    The people in USA can (sometimes HAS to) carry a gun to protect themselves.

    I feel more safe in China than in USA and even in my own small country.

    It is true that nearly all chinese INSIDE mainland China don’t know what actually happened in Tibet because they can’t find any information on that.

    It was an answer to a guy who mentioned Adolf Hitler as a problem China never have had, and that pissed ME off.

    You’re located in USA, so I guess you know better, as you have free access all over the Internet. I will not give references, I’m in China.

    I have been in California and up and down the West Coast of USA 2 times and I think people drive more careful there than in my country.

    Maybe NY is bad, I don’t know.

    From the movies NY traffic looks quite bad, a sea of yellow cabs greeting eachothers by exchanging “finger positions” out of the windows.

    I hope it’s not real.

    I don’t think my country is perfect at all – the most dangerous in the danish traffic are drunk drivers, young foreign men driving recklessly and people who don’t put on their belt when driving.

    Even we punish violators very hard, still some newcomers do it.

    The traffic authorities advertises in TV and magazines, sometimes even with photos of accidents, and it surely has an effect.

    And it makes people talk about it.

    Now it’s no longer “cool” to drive drunk home from a wet party, and people can see the sense in putting on the belt before driving.

    You and me can cross the streets far more safely in our homecountries than in China. I hope the traffic safety of China will improve because I am here right now and it IS dangerous ! People here feels unsafe about it, but don’t know what to do, so “it’s the government’s problem”.

    I’m not labeling myself – you are labeling me.

    If I should, I would be a “Citizen of the World”.

  10. Shanghai Slim

    BeBro wrote:

    >>>it is also a generic traffic phenomenon in any populous and old metropolises, think Boston, New York, not to mention Rome.

    I’m afraid I can’t agree with that. I used to live in San Francisco (some of the worst traffic in the entire USA) and have spent time in Manhatten and Boston (legendarily bad drivers). Driving in these places is VERY different than in Shanghai. Despite traffic much worse than Shanghai’s, people in those cities, drive in a far more civil manner, including usually yielding to pedestrians. I think you will find the same true of most western cities – except maybe Rome. ;-)

    I’m sorry if you felt I was “bitching and moaning”, in fact I was trying to shed a little light on a social phenomenon that I believe is quite a bit more complex than simple bad driving habits. I don’t think I made any racist comments. I laid out some commonly-seen examples to explain my opinion. I think that’s better than simply making an unsupported assertion.

    Your ideas about engineering, discipline and design are fine, and could potentially help the situation. However, a more effective legal system would go farther, in my opinion. There are already plenty of excellent traffic laws on the books, the problem is enforcement. Increasing fines or educating people about laws is useless if the laws are unenforced and ignored.

  11. Shanghai Slim

    For the sake of balance, I wanted to add to my note that, while Chinese people may appear to care less than westerners about people they don’t know, there is also a “flip-side”: for people they DO know, Chinese (in general) seem to care MORE than westerners.

    It seems that Chinese people take friendship and family ties more seriously than westerners, generously offering assistance, loans or shelter to relatives or friends in need. I have learned this first-hand from my own Chinese friends (which I am lucky and honored to have).

    By the way, this “people you know/people you don’t know” theory is not my own, this is how I have heard Chinese explain their own actions and motivations.

    Wish you all safety on the streets! :-)

  12. James

    No, I’m not from aboard, I am a Chinese born, but hae lived in Australia for a long time. I believe that heavy fines on traffic violations and more strict law won’t actually help this matter, because of the existence of Guanxi – relationshps/connections, any law or regulations can be bypassed.

  13. Carsten

    About fines :

    In my country of Denmark I want to cross the street if there is a red light,

    but no cars or any persons are in sight.

    And I like to ride by bike after sunset, but sometimes I dare to do that, without a correct white clear light in front, and a clear red light in the back of the bicycle.

    (The reason for introducing this is the former high death rates for bicycle drivers, and it has caused a drastic reduction in fatal car/bicycle crash cases !)

    But, damn me if I do ! I will fined for 500 DKR, that is equivalent to 678 RMB.

    Will you do so if your “natural relations” says “I don’t give a damn” ?

    The money has a better time in my pocket I say, so I better do it right !

    If children violate the laws, then the parents will have to pay (!), NO mercy.

    This makes traffic rules and skills VERY important to learn the children.

    Totally, it’s a high risk to take for financial and security reasons.

    So I guess afterall that high fines HAS an effect, and for good reasons.

    Of course it has to be followed up by the police.

    The police force in most western democratic countries are nearly impossible to bribe, as they are in a high risk to get sacked if they do so, or do any other things wrong. Anyone are allowed to complain against a police officer by a written complaint (but in 85% of cases it’s useless).

    This is a different scenario than our beloved Shanghai.

    My point is : High fines is a threat that keeps people on the right track.

    And I guess that the Shanghai Police will just LOVE to write a lot of fines.

  14. dbjiang

    hahaha, good topic.

    The traffic mess in China is not due to some reck-less drivers or jaywalkers. All of people don’t have a correct cognition on good traffic order, even the policemen and traffic control department. But don’t suspect the traffic rule in China, it’s almost same as most country, includes US, although the drivers drive in an absolute different way.

    Another interesting thing is: I have driven in Shanghai for over 6 years. I never feel I have any driving difficulty in Shanghai. But after I got a Canadian drive license two years ago, I found I don’t know how to drive in both country afterwards. I was horned in Canada for incorrect changing lane, and also horned in Shanghai for stop at stop sign. :-)

  15. Yang

    Hello! I have got a question: Should pedestrains always have the right of way since the new traffic rule put into use in China?

    Thank you!

  16. ajay

    i wonder what u guys complaining about.Im from India and i tell you this is the worst that can get anywhere in the world.We have the most dangerous reckless drivers who probably got their licence(to kill)by paying the authorities bribe.The taxi drivers are a frustrated lot and driving in the heat with no airconditioners vent their feelings on others.The biggest menace are the three wheelers called “autos”who conveniently break all rules(if any) and are the main cause of accidents as they monouvre dangerously risking the lives of passengers pedestrian and motorists.Wonder why the governtment doesnt put the manufacturer of this dangerous 3 wheeler behind bars for creating such a nuisance on the roads.As for the pedesterians the less said the better-these guys cross roads without looking left or right and seem to ask the motorists what the hell they doin on the roads.The most annoying thing is to see these people lift their hands to stop the incoming vehicles just because they feel too lazy to cross the road from the red signal a few metres away.And I fail to understand why our drivers refuse to drive in proper lanes and maintain distance between cars.Anybody for an Indian licence-they say if u could drive in India you could drive anywhere in the world.

  17. Wisnu

    The UGLY Modern Chinese.

    The problem is actually more profound than just driving, it is deeper that the superficiality we have seen on the street daily.

    I think it is because to the Chinese mind now the center of the earth is his or her self. That everything start from their own interest than the next is probably others will come to consideration if I have time or if it is giving me profit.

    That is why you see in the Shanghai subway stations a lot of “illiterate”people standing on the platform which is supposed to be for people get alight whilts the in-coming passenger wait on the side.(Depsite the platform already given that sign right on the floor of that platform).

    Then if you are insight look at their face to get a seat, almost breaking the 100meter race each time and smug face if they manage to get a seat even for that they have knocked down an old lady or man. It is very seldom for me to see a young person offer a seat to a lady, senior citizens in China. They are very courteous on this in Japan, Singapore.

    At the supermarket just look how they dont understand a single bit about queueing, you can see that they dont give a damn bit of thoughtfullness or courtesy like the Japanese.

    Despite the war attrocities I must say that the Japanese in Japan are the most courteous and thoughtfull people. I vouched that even in Tokyo, been there few times and always have this same feeling.

    Coming to the street, the incessant horn blowing is the norm, again the same smugness face of arrogant “new driver” of people who suddenly can afford car but with the mentality of people with small thinking.

    They may drove Maybach, latest Ferrari,Lamborghini, Lexus, BWM 7 series, Mercedez, Porche and Audi but their behaviour is very uncivilised no different than an uneducated people. They park where they like as they just bribe the security guard or out of total ignorance, doesnt matter if it blocks pedestrian crossing or walkway.

    Totally with out any consideration to other traffic users.

    The bus / public transport also the same. Doesnt matter if the bicycle rider is an old man, or a mother taking her daughter these people are on the right lane.. they just blew the horn incessantly as if they are saying: “hey get out of my way you stupid Chinese”

    On the other front also about the cleanliness, if Paris got land mines in the form of dog poo, here we have anywhere to look for spits to avoid steppin on that disgusting greenish yellow spits.

    During the SARS I was very happy as nobody spit, but the moment the crisis is over everybody back to the olde bad habit of spitting just anywhere they like. Even inside the Lotus supermarket their employee spit on the floor infront of the customers..jeez.

    Coming back to what I observe and discuss with some Chinese friends it it the self centerness that make the new Chinese. That is why also we saw a lot of accidents on the street.

    An overseas friend pathetically said it is good maybe for China so the population now controlled not only by Family Planning but by the Road Barbaric Drivers of China. So if you seen the shocking statistic of road accidents dont wonder.

    In my opinion unless these daily clashes, conflict between traffic users (including the pedestrians) being handled with firm authority we will see more deeper social animosities.

    It is also lies on the deeper sight a picture of income gap is widening between the have and the have not. While those “The Have” doesnt have the mentality of civilised people, what they have is only arogances, that they can do no wrong. The have not work hard but in most time they are also paying a very high cost of being the underdog of the society till they can struggled wiggled to move up the rat race ladder if at all.

    As for the motorised traffic the chaos of these unruly behaviour does another cost. Money= waste gasoline, long queues, traffic jams in many part of the city.

    Some wise people said, if you want to get a picture of a modern civilised society one of the indicator is how they drive and use the road. If so, then Shanghai or big metro in China is a picture of UGLY people.

    If these are the face of Shanghai, what we are proud of? All the glitter of Waitans, HuaiHai Lu, NanjingLu, Jinmao Tower being washed out the moment one car blewing horn without any respect to a pedestrian crossing the street.

    A city is nothing without a soul. And I believe Shanghai is going that way at the moment.

    Yet with a good visionary leader Shanghai also had the ability to lead set an example of a fine civilised city. Other wise sooner or later Shanghai will become a city like Manila, Jakarta or Bangkok where no-mans land in the traffic; long drive in the midts of traffic jams.

    Those 5000 years of histories and values we are so proud of is not in our heart and mind anymore.

    All we have now is the olde arrogances of the bad history of China being relived because of our indifference attitudes.

    IT only took one massive SARS, Bird Flu, or tsunami, or earthquake to humble, so what are we so arrogance about?

    On this folder or topic, I would like to appeal all real Zhongguoren to instill back the good values we inherited.

    5000 years of history means nothing less we learn and practice the good universal values in this modern neck breaking society. Let us not be the UGLY CHINESE.

    “a huaren in the city”

  18. ody

    I’m interested in the selfish mentality , Shanghai Slim and Wisnu have mentioned, that caused the negligence of the drivers. Who are these drivers? Well educated people who drive a nice expensive car. Or are they just the bad educated taxi drivers? Or both?

    Is the negligence behavior also caused by their high pace of life (always in a hurry and rush)? Time=money=selfish mentality? Is this equation true in the Chinese minds?

    Or does the problem comes from the frustration and stress because of the congestions? Some studies reveal that traffic jams cause frustration and therefore aggressiveness.

    What’s the main reason of the chinese driving mentality then?

    A quote:

    ‘Chinese people as a society show trust in each other. Pedestrians frequently step out in front of moving vehicles. Cars cut each other off with a minimum of clearance. But I see or hear of no “road rage.” People show great self-control. Chinese drivers are defensive drivers. They constantly watch other vehicles and pedestrians. They want no contact with either!

    On the other hand, drivers in the United States are too often aggressive rather than defensive. In their aggression, their attention is focused primarily on traffic lights. They try to reach the lights before they change. Their first thought, if they hit anything, is whether they legally had the right of way.’

    source: http://www.bjreview.com.cn/En-2005/05-37-e/expateye.htm

  19. BAi Li

    I feel a little better reading the discussions here. I was almost run down by a rude SUV driver today, turning left into me with no signal and speeding up! I was riding my bike through a signal with a green light, following the traffic rules. I’ll be damned before I just ‘get out of the way’ for a driver just because he’s bigger and ruder. I was so mad I yelled “F-You!” and that ass had the nerve to stop and roll down his window to say it back to me. THere would have been a physical fight if I had not left then. I wish I had been calm enough to take his picture and also record his license to report him. Bad driving is one thing, but to endanger someone’s life and then act as though this is the RIGHT of the driver…makes me question living in this city which really showed me its ugly side today.

  20. Jake

    I just recently moved to Shanghai from Los Angeles for work and want to apply for a local driver’s license. I’ve read all the posts about the steps necessary to convert my California license to a local one but I was curious if anyone knows of an agent or someone that can help me go through the entire process on my behalf (well, of course I would need to take the test myself). With the job that I have it’s essentially not possible for me to take a whole day, or even a half day off to go through the steps myself. Would greatly appreciate if any of you can point me in the right direction. Thanks in advance!

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