Driving (and being a Pedestrian) in New York vs Shanghai – Part 1

Adding Oil:

One of the more subtle differences between New York and Shanghai (which can be generalized to Western and Asian societies overall) is the relationship between motorists and pedestrians.

AddingOil’s perils as a pedestrian – to be fair, this is just illustrative as this photo actually wasn’t taken in China!

In the U.S., pedestrians are treated as the equivalent of an endangered species. They are to be protected at all costs (admittedly, this is probably related to being a highly litigious society), and at times coddled (which is very much the case on the West Coast). In fact, in many East Coast cities, such as NY and Boston, pedestrians can even have an arrogant demeanor, assuming right of way without regard to their physical safely. If you honk at them when they are not walking with the light, they’ll actually glare at you and act indignant!

In China, in sharp contrast, pedestrians are simply the lowest level in the food chain (i.e., plankton). The buses are the blue whales (everyone just gets out of their way), cars and small trucks are the great white sharks and killer whales (strong, quick, and deadly), and the bikes (either powered or pedaled) are schools of fish darting everywhere regardless of traffic laws. And all of them eat plankton.

It may seem counterintuitive, but beware the electric bikes! Personally, I think the electric bikes are most dangerous to pedestrians because they are near silent, don’t obey traffic conventions, and often go on the sidewalk. But then, I’ve seen cars drive on the sidewalk too.

I often tell people that the only real physical danger of bodily harm I experienced in a first tier city like Shanghai is crossing the street every day during my work commute. Infamously, it is economically better for a motorist to kill an pedestrian rather than maim them because of the medical bill liability. So there are many stories of Chinese drivers ensuring the pedestrian’s death rather than saving their life.

Even when I visited home to New York, I would still be ultra cautious (perhaps even paranoid) when crossing the street. I would eye every driver with suspicion, giving them right of way even when they didn’t have it – which admittedly caused some confusion.  I didn’t want to lose my edge. I saw way too many hit and run incidents in Shanghai.

So for everyone visiting China (and most of Asia ex-Japan), always remember to be paranoid crossing the street!

Jiayou:

 行人行走在美国的马路和在中国的马路的区别:在美国,一般是车让人;在中国,一般是人让车。

在美国,行人是被当作珍稀动物对待的。当行人闯红灯时,正在行驶的车辆也会耐心的等待挥手示意行人先过马路。以前我去波士顿的时候,在交叉口等待绿灯时,开过来的车辆反而示意让我先过马路,即使那时是行人红灯的等待时间。另一件事情就是,我发现美国人开车很少摁喇叭。除了在一些紧急情况下,人们才会摁喇叭。在美国发生车撞到人时,一般第一时间会报警,报警之后,然后通知保险公司处理车险。我认为美国道路上最危险的是没有设立单独的非机动车行驶的道路,摩托车一般都是在机动车道上行驶,驾驶摩托车是需要考摩托车驾照的,摩托车在路上行驶时,被视为机动车。如果发生事故时,我认为是致命的。

相反,在中国,行人在路上行驶时要提起十分的警惕心。怕一不小心就会被车辆碰到。第一点,行人平常绿灯时过马路都要十分注意自己周边车辆的情况,如果发现有车辆靠近自己,行人会让车辆先行。如果中国的路口跟美国一样,一些路口有行人行驶斑马线但没有红绿灯,车辆多时行人还真要等车辆慢下来才敢过马路。中国考驾照时,一般都考得很细,驾考时规定人为先,但是在现实生活中,人们会忽略这一点,只要没有撞到人就是安全的,估计还是因为人口实在太多没法办到吧。第二点,在中国,车辆鸣喇叭的频率要比美国多很多。第三点,当发生车撞人时,有些人第一时间会吵架,然后是报警,有时吵架的时间比交警记录时间更长,有些甚至会因口角而打架。第四点,有一点我觉得咱中国做的很好,就是设立了非机动车行驶的道路,这样可以大大降低因车辆碰撞发生致命的事故。

总而言之,我认为行人在美国行走时要安全很多。真希望我们中国哪天也能跟美国一样在路上行驶时不用担心车辆会撞到自己。

Let us know what you think and share your experiences!