Posts Tagged: traffic lights

Chinese do not pay attention to red traffic lights anyway

I decided to buy a simple (20 euro) bike at the Carrefour last week, as there are many more bikes and bike roads in Shanghai then in Seoul. Finally I feel free in the city! Is it dangerous to cycle through Shanghai? My first response would be that it’s certainly not easy to cycle here. First off because there are many electric bikes here, these bikes have a high velocity but emit zero sound. These bikes are potentially really dangerous! I have to say that after some close encounters, I got became very aware of traffic while commuting, otherwise I’d better leave my bike at home. There is another big difference in commuting here that is worth noting:  Red traffic lights in most of Europe means that you stop. In Korea, a red light is interpreted differently. One has to slow down to see if traffic is approaching and continue. In China, I’m not even sure if people pay attention to the traffic signs. Traffic, including city buses just keeps going on some places!  I sat down and looked at this phenomenon for a while; Shanghai traffic from an outside perspective looks like a beautiful flow of bikes, scooters cars and buses intertwining seamlessly. From the ‘participating’ perspective, it means paying attention and drive defensively. Awareness is key, and being aware – not dozing off like I just to do on my bike in Barcelona – forces you to your peripheral view and create better overview of traffic situations. Last Friday I was cycling home and the traffic lights got my attention. Both green and red are burning! This picture is not photo-shopped. The mixed signal confused me; should I stop or continue? I thought it was funny because a Shanghainese would interpret almost any stop sign like this. Did city hall just gave up?