China’s Rules of The Road

When I hopped on the plane to China, I knew I’d be experiencing completely new foods. It’d be 23 days until I get eat my favorite maple brown sugar oatmeal again. I knew Shanghai would look different than the Twin Cities. I’d heard that the skyscrapers were endless. I also knew, frankly, that I’d be living an entirely new way of life. There was one thing I wasn’t prepared for though: that their driving etiquette would be foreign as well.

No, they don’t drive on the left side of the road in China, and no, they don’t have an Autobahn. The thing that struck me as most absurd was that, in China, traffic laws are bendy. If a light turns red, the rule of thumb is to count to 30 before you begin to cross because drivers will go anyway. Not to mention, motorized bikes were the preferred form of transportation, especially in the less wealthy districts. Forget, “Pedestrians always have the right of way”, in China, motorbikes make the rules. Almost every morning, on my walk to class at 8:30am, an obnoxious biker would honk their horn at me. In China, a honk doesn’t mean “get out of the way”, it means, “stay where you are because if you step to the side I WILL hit you,” – not exaggerating.

Second, highway lanes are a waste of paint. You could be on a marked two-lane interstate and there’d be 4 or 5 rows of cars. People drove wherever on the road. People also drove close to one another. I remember almost screaming the first time I realized I could have touched the bus that was passing by without sticking my arm more than halfway out the window. Somehow, I’m here to tell you about it.

Lastly, people actually seemed to follow parking regulations. There was this pink BMW who broke that trend, though. Every time we saw it parked backward. You do you, I guess!

Backward pink BMW

Interested in hearing more about my time in China? Read about the types of cars I saw and my recap of a Volkswagen Factory Tour!

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