The Rules of the Road (etc)

I am quickly learning the rules of the road (which also extend to the footpath and parks and anywhere else you can squeeze a vehicle). It’s literally a matter of life and death.

Trucks beat buses, buses beat cars, cars beat scooters, scooters beat bicycles, bicycles beat pedestrians. That is the pecking order that needs to be obeyed at all times, with lesser combatants always willing to give way.

The other key rule is the constant use of your horn (or bell for cyclists). This is supposedly for safety, but I see (hear?) a lot of horning that translates as “I’m sick of waiting”, “I’m bored” or “I wonder how long I can blast my horn continuously”, rather than “Holy crap” I’m about to run into you!” I have heard that it is against the law to not warn others of your presence while driving. But, while it is OK in a rural village to give someone a small toot as you are approaching them, in car-lovin’ Shanghai, it just becomes a pointless mess of noise.

According to the hierarchy, if you are driving a large vehicle, you can do whatever you want. If you are sick of waiting for the traffic to move, it is perfectly OK to move onto the wrong side of the road and try your luck there. If there is no road space, try the footpath. If you encounter traffic moving in the opposite direction, best to just sit there (blasting your horn) until someone gives in. By then, you have backed up so much traffic in both directions, any attempts to get back in your lane will set off a chorus of car horns that, frankly, aren’t helping matters. If you are a taxi driver, you have permission to drive as fast as you want, regardless of the traffic, weather or terrified expression of your seatbelt-less passengers.

So, scooter riders, with the roads so crazy, please use the footpaths (it’s OK, you have feet as well). Please leave as little space as possible between you and pedestrians, approach them at maximum speed, and if you see one just about to enter a small gate or opening, you must attempt to beat them through it. Cyclists, all the same behavior applies to you, but as your vehicle is potentially less damaging to other people, overload it with as much rubbish as possible and periodically let it all spill off onto the road or footpath.

Pedestrians, everyone hates you and wants to damage you. It is the law (like really, truly the law) that all vehicles are allowed to turn right at any time, regardless of zebra crossings and/or lights with green men and/or people walking across the street. The only safe way to cross the road is to wait until a critical mass of people builds up (at least 6, preferably 10) then to surge onto the road. This is scary at first, but you’ll get used to it. At this point, you can take revenge on your enemies by cutting off the last car in the pack and making them wait, all alone, for the people to cross. Expect much horning.

The Hummer, by the way, lives next door to my office. Being a hospital, I imagine it belongs to one of the senior doctors. It’s probably a good business strategy – create the problem, treat the problem.

6 Responses to The Rules of the Road (etc)

  1. katharine says:

    Interesting… I can feel a new version of the classic ‘rock paper scissors’ coming on (second only of course to ‘rock paper scissors lizard spock’).

    ‘truck bus car scooter bike pedestrian’!!!!

    Only, pedestrian is going to have to figure out a way of killing something….

    • I know! Pedestrian can kill truck by falling under it and getting mangled in the engine. It would take a long time to recover, but a victory is a victory…

  2. katharine says:

    Hmmm the problem with that is it would be a closer to a nil-nil draw than a victory. Maybe pedestrian can kill car in a car jacking? Did you hear about the gang of teenage girls who have been carjacking the western suburbs here recently?!

    • All this speculation lead me to some research
      Once, RPS was used to decide a multi-million dollar auction contract. RPS is also evident in the mating habits of the Common Side-blotched Lizard, where each of the three distinct types of male lizard has an advantage over one of the others. And in Indonesia, they play Elephant-Human-Earwig. The earwig climbs in the ear of the elephant, sending it insane … which also sounds like a nil-all draw.

  3. katharine says:


  4. Pingback: My first year in Shangers | That Look Crayzy!

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