Archives For Traffic

I know a recurring theme with my blog posts has to do with interesting and new sights I see while in China, and this post will be no different! I have seen so many unexpected and inexplicable things as I have traveled, so I consider myself fortunate, and I always enjoy encountering a new sight from time to time.

As I walked down one of the most heavily traveled thoroughfares running north and south in one of my favorite cities in China, I came across something I had never considered seeing on a busy street corner. To my surprise, an industrious young man had set up a couple of stools, and was doing pedicures for everyone to see!

Would You Like Some Traffic With Your Pedicure?

He had all of his supplies nicely arranged in his “office,” so I guess this wasn’t a spur of the moment idea for him. I have probably passed this street corner hundreds of times, and never seen him there. He decided he didn’t want me taking any additional pictures, but I can tell you he actually had a line of people waiting for him! If you look at the person in the background in the striped shirt, they appear to be in such a hurry for his services that they are already taking off their shoes!

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well along Qing Nian Da Jie! So if you ever want to let literally thousands of people watch you enjoy your pedicure, may I suggest visiting this busy street corner in China?

Do you think he has your color of toenail polish?

 

Cars!

June 23, 2015 — Leave a comment

With China’s recent improvements in their economic standing, people now have more discretionary funds for nice things… like cars. This has brought about some interesting challenges for China. Many of the cities were not designed to handle this increase in the volume of cars. So, some people decide it is OK to park on the sidewalk, which is understandable because there aren’t enough parking spaces. When this becomes even more interesting is when people decide to drive on the sidewalks — no, I am not kidding. Some of the drivers are first generation drivers, so other than riding in a taxi or bus, they haven’t been exposed to a lot of driving.

The new buildings are being designed by wise engineers, so they are addressing the parking problem by digging huge holes underneath the buildings for underground parking decks. This is a great idea, so I tip my hat to those who planned the new buildings with this design.

With the new discretionary funds some in China have, many have turned to luxury cars, and some to sports cars. You can see a wide variety of cars on the streets in China!

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Yes, you can even find a custom exterior on a car to help the owner express themselves. I have even seen a small black car with a Batman logo on the hood!

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What car-crazy nation would be complete without a set of fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror?!

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When I first visited China in 2002, I was so surprised by the traffic in the small city where I spent most of my time. There was a constant flow of trucks, cars, motorcycles, bikes, and donkey drawn carts. The only place where traffic lights were used were at the busiest intersections. At the other intersections where stop signs are in place, they were only a suggestion. There were so many people on the streets and the constant honking of horns was much more prevalent than in the states. The use of a horn has a different meaning in China than in the states. In the states, we are saying, “get out of my way” or “hurry up,” but in China you are saying, “I am here, so let’s not have an accident.”

One of the most interesting parts of the traffic in China (when I first visited there), was the number of pedestrians, carts, and people on bikes. I would guess that, in the small city where I was, about 80 percent of the traffic was from the groups I just mentioned. Recently, I had the joy and privilege of returning to the little city where I fell in love with China. One of the main differences I saw in the traffic now, compared to 2002, was the number of pedestrians, carts, and bikes. That number has decreased to about 10 percent, in my estimation.

I was always surprised and terrified by how people would ride scooters and motorcycles without a helmet. To make matters even more concerning for me, you would see parents on a scooter holding a baby, and nobody had any protection at all. By the way, it gets very cold there in the winter, so can you imagine how cold it must be on a scooter, motorcycle, or bike!

My story so far has led me to this point: last month I took this picture of a family on a scooter. You will be able to see how the handle bars have built in gloves to keep the hands warm. You will also see that there is a thick blanket to keep the riders as warm as possible, but look more closely, and you can see a surprise! Notice how there are 2 sets of legs going one way and one set of legs going the other. This couple placed their child behind the front wheel and behind the blanket to keep their child as warm as possible. I have spent a lot of time in China, but this was the first time I have seen this done. I can completely understand their idea!

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With the largest population of any country in the world (nearly 1.5 billion people!), you may wonder how China keeps so many people, and the traffic they cause, orderly.  To many Westerners, the flow of traffic may seem chaotic, but it really isn’t.  There is a nice system of give-a-gap and take-a-gap for those driving. A horn honk doesn’t mean get out of my way, rather: “Hey! I am here and moving forward… so, let’s not bump into each other.”

In the paragraph above, I was describing traffic for motor vehicles, but what about pedestrians?  Yes, China does have a system in place for them as well.  As you can see from the picture below, it is clear where someone should stand before crossing a street.

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Another welcome guide for the pedestrian is the indicator for telling you when it should be safe to cross the street.  I would strongly encourage everyone walking the streets in China to keep yourself aware of the cars near you. As with any country, you never know what someone may do.

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With so many people using the streets of China, sometimes the traffic signals seem to stay a certain color for an extended amount of time.  For those of us who grow impatient easily, China lets you know how much longer it will be before the light changes colors, which is a wonderful idea to me!

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The picture above was taken on a VERY busy street corner in China.  I don’t have access to any statistics, but I would imagine that letting people know when the light is going to change has prevented accidents from occurring.  The traffic flow in China takes a little getting used to since the volume may be higher that what many Westerners are accustomed to, but it usually works well!