Yesterday I got hit by an e-bike. Don’t worry! I’m okay. No harm done but it was a little alarming. Turns out being a pedestrian in China is harder than I thought. Therefore, I thought it important to share with you the differences between being a pedestrian in the West and in China.
1. THERE ARE NO RULES! or that’s how it seems.
As many people expect from China the roads can seem a bit chaotic. Everyone has somewhere to be and that might mean ignoring traffic lights, squeezing into whatever space is available or turning wherever you need. As long as your driving doesn’t cause any accidents that is okay, do what you need to to get where you are going.
2. The bigger you are the better
The is a hierarchy on the roads of China. First are buses and trucks since these guys are huge. It is pretty hard to miss seeing them and you have no reason not to avoid hitting them. Last are the pedestrians. As a pedestrian you are tiny, easy to miss. If there is a car or e-bike coming toward you, you better move. Everyone is bigger than you so they have right of way.
3. Don’t hit anyone and don’t get hit.
Obviously there are problems if you hit someone. If they are hurt you are responsible for their medical costs, insurance etc. But it is just as much your own responsibility to not get hit. If you do get hit the person who hit you is more than likely to yell at you (unless you’re seriously hurt). Obviously it was your fault for getting in there way even though you moved out of their path 10 times.
4. Footpaths aren’t just for pedestrians.
Did you ever think that footpaths are just for pedestrians? Well you are wrong my friends. If you are on a bike use the footpath. If you are riding your e-bike, use the footpath. If you are driving a car? Yep, you guessed it use the footpath. As long as you have a bell or horn to warn pedestrians that they are moving to slow or in your way using the footpath is totally acceptable.
5. Lao wais are expensive
One of the biggest reasons to not hit anyone is the expense this incurs. Lao wais are even more expensive than regular people. I’m not exactly sure why this is but could be due to insurance and/or our demand for a higher standard of care. Whatever the reason, people are less likely to hit a white person, phew.it is very easy to adjust. The roads are no where near as bad as I was expecting. If you come to China don’t worry you will be safe crossing the roads and getting into taxis.
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