Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chinese Traffic

Chinese traffic is pretty amazing. Chinese people are very nice in person, but in crowds they are often very pushy and aggressive. It's not uncommon to have somebody barge in front of you in a lineup or push you out of the way to get on the train. This transfers over to driving as well.

To make matters worse, the very rapid rise in wealth in China means the majority of drivers are new drivers. Most people who are driving literally couldn't afford a car a few years ago. It's amazing how many times we've seen people unable to do simple things like park a vehicle or turn it around on a dirty road. If you can imagine an entire country of aggressive 16 year old drivers you get an idea of the situation.

A typical scene reported by our friends here is as follows. The setting is a two lane road with a railway crossing. A train arrives and traffic stops. As soon as a lineup starts to form drivers figure they can jump the queue by driving into the now empty oncoming lanes. Or the ditch. Or the ditch in the oncoming lanes. A two lane highway becomes 4 lanes of one way traffic.

Exit the train. The same thing has happened on the other side of course. 4 lanes of jammed vehicles face each other. Nobody can back up because of all the vehicles behind them, so they just start driving at each other hoping somebody will move out of the way. Eventually it all sorts itself out, but it can take ages.

Then another train comes.

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