Introduction
The first culture shock you'll experience is the traffic, it's a chaotic wild west where pedestrians don't have right of way and drivers a less than courteous. If you're fresh off the plane, here's a simple guide to help you adjust and make it across the road in one piece.
Zebra crossings without traffic lights
Normally you'll see a sign like this back home, but not in China, and pedestrians do not have right of way. A zebra crossing's purpose is to get pedestrians to cross at one place so that they're not crossing up all along the road.
You will need to wait for a large enough gap in the road, drivers won't slow down to let you cross, but only when you're half way will they slow down and stop for you.
Zebra crossings with traffic lights
With traffic lights, only then will cars stop to let you cross, they'll be fined if they don't but you'll need to be careful of scooters.
Intersections
Even with a green pedestrian light you will need to pay attention to cars turning right, if you haven't started to cross they'll turn without letting you pass.
On coming cars turning left will also won't let you pass if you haven't started to cross, and when their light turns red and yours turns green they will still try to turn left.
Cars making a U-turn will just drive around no matter how many pedestrians are trying to cross. Sometimes you need to stand your ground if they're not going fast.
When you're crossing the road as your green light becomes red, and theirs become green, even though you haven't reached the other side, they will commence. It will feel as if they're going to run you over, but recently a new law is forcing them to wait for pedestrian to cross first.
Intersections with slip lanes
When there is a slip lane you'll need to be very careful, cars turning right despite knowing there will be pedestrians will drive past really fast. Even if they're not going fast they won't stop to let you pass, sometimes you need to just cross and they will stop, but be careful.
Crossing supervisor
In some cities and at very busy intersections there might be crossing supervisors. Their duty is to keep pedestrians from jaywalking as some pedestrians try to cross during a red light. When the light is green they will blow their whistle, wave a little flag and make sure cars turning right allow pedestrians to pass.
During peak hour there maybe traffic police instead, who also make sure that cars don't block the centre of an intersection.
Car horns and indicators
Drivers beep their horns constantly and back home this would trigger road rage. If you're walking up a narrow alley they might be behind, they will beep to let you know of their presence. It'll scare the crap out of you, but as obnoxious as it feels, they're trying to be courteous.
Sometimes when you're walking on the footpath, and they're trying to park, they will beep from behind. Drivers will park anywhere their car will fit.
Imagine a country full of BMW drivers where an indicator is optional, a lot drivers won't use it if there are no other cars. You will need to read the car's motion such as, is it slowing down to turn.
Why do they drive like this
Despite being one of the largest car markets in the world, China isn't a car culture per se. They don't learn to drive when they are teenagers, parents don't teach their kids to drive and when they do take lessons it's when they are adults, but learning mostly in an obstacle course. If they do learn to drive on actual roads it will be on a secluded road with barely any traffic. There's a lot etiquette you learn from your parents, but many people are first generation drivers in their families.
From bicycles and scooters to cars in a very short span of time; weaving, ducking out in front of each other and ignoring road rules, some bicycle habits still persist in some drivers.
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