Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pedestrian crossings in Shanghai are not for the fainthearted …….

There are lots of zebra crossings on busy roads in Shanghai and it was an experience in itself, crossing them safely. Legally, pedestrians have the right of way on crossing, however few drivers will actually go the mile and stop for them. As a pedestrian, I am outraged that traffic police are remiss in reminding inconsiderate motorists that people have right of way at the crossings, not cars!! That they are supposed to slow down, yield and avoid us, not us them. Establish a regime of severe fines and tough penalties, I say, to make the roads safe for us all and to make drivers think twice about their selfish and reckless behavior that puts us all at risk. 
Mustering up my courage one afternoon, I decided to put what I believed into practice: just like any well-trained citizen in Switzerland, I was going to put first one foot on the crossing, then the other foot to signal to oncoming motorists of my intention to cross and expect that they would slow down and stop for me. I told myself it’s my right to adopt a leisurely pace of crossing without cowering in fear as to whether they would actually stop nor should I be racing across to the other side worrying about being run over by cars that didn’t slow down.

Well …………I survived to tell the tale but the truth is that, they didn’t stop, they barely noticeably braked ………  they would have run me right over if my sister, a 3-year resident, hadn’t simply grabbed my arm and dragged me across the road with her each time I chose to linger …………

It is no wonder that road accidents are the highest cause of death in China!


Admittedly the above image is showing something a bit different from what I described, it seems to suggest that pedestrians themselves are breaking the law crossing against a red light (which does happen too often enough) but actually there are not always traffic lights at crossings in Shanghai or if there are, motorists ignore them at the expense of pedestrians crossing on green. 

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