Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Shanghai Rules

Shanghai Traffic Rules

After several sojourns along the highways, byways, sidewalks and back alleys
with Zhou, I have compiled the following definitions for driving in Shanghai.

The more astute readers of this little scrap of foolishness might infer that
I have been contemplating driving in this 'burg.

You can put those thoughts to rest... I've finally found a worse place than
Boston to be a driver.

Shanghai Traffic Definitions and Tips:

Right of Way: Whoever gets there first is right in your way.

Green Light: Keep going, liberal use of horn (if you are a car) or bell (if a bicycle) may help prevent right of way.

Red Light:
Phase of light most patriotic to China, often evoking strong emotional responses in the hearts of those encountering this color.

Stop Light: What, in Shanghai?
No such thing; not to be confused with "hong lu deng" (red green light), i.e. and aesthetically pleasing, multicolored light which pedestrians may ignore.

Traffic Jam:
Neither you, nor those around you are exercising enough vim, vigor and/or can-do spirit to find a non-linear path to continue your journey.

Flashing Green Light: The light is about to change, speed up before it is too late.

Flashing Red Light: Same as flashing green light. Interestingly, according to industrial engineers, making lights flash may be the best method to save money on electricity, short of turning the lights off altogether.

Flashing Blue Light: Time to change sunglasses, or you may be on an airport runway, or perhaps a K-Mart. (Note that right of way does not hold on airport runways)

Head Lights: What you flash to prevent right of way; most vehicles have three settings, off, brights, or broken.

Sound of Policemans Whistle: Immediately act innocent and clueless about what you are doing. (Being a foreigner helps here with the clueless factor). Do not under any circumstances admit that you can speak Chinese.

Policeman Motions you to go:
This is your big chance, so grab it fast; sometimes strong enough to overcome right of way (But don't count on it.)

Cutting somebody else off:
Smile if you did it by accident, and accuse the other party first if you did it purposefully; or was it the other way around?

Road: Where pedestrians walk and bicyclists ride without looking; after all, feet were created well before bicycles and cars. Liberal application of horn is useful here.

Sidewalk / Pavement:
Where drivers and cyclists go when the main road becomes congested with pedestrians; also good place to park cars, bicycles, relatives with lawn chairs.

Gridlock: Multiple drivers exhibiting nearly identical right of way skills having a chance encounter.

The best advice:
Stay off the roads. The hotel bar is an excellent alternative.

TBG Out-

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