Both of my traffic tickets were made on my E-bike in Puxi, far away from my quiet home in Pudong. The first instance occurred while making a trip back home from my Capoeira class in Xujiahui. I was driving down Zhaojiabang Road and heading towards the ferryboat on Fuxing Road when I heard two elderly Chinese men shouting at me in thick accents. I couldn't decipher what all they were saying, but I figured they were just excited to see a foreigner riding by. I pulled onto the sidewalk and was arriving at an intersection when all of a sudden several policemen popped out from behind a subway entry/exit stationed on the curb.
Two of the policeman approached my bike and after getting past the run around of trying to figure out if I could speak Mandarin, exclaimed in a dead serious tone, "You broke China's traffic laws". I did my best to explain that I didn't see any "No E-bikes allowed" sign along the street, of which I seriously didn't (Hey, it was one of my first times driving around Puxi and I wasn't even paying attention to the road signs), but they weren't having any of it. After awhile one of the policemen asked to see my passport, but I managed go quickly change the subject without a flinch. Whew.
All in all, I ended up having to write my name on a piece of paper and then, wait for it, had to pay a whopping 20RMB fine, or about $3 and some change, on the spot, cash money. H-A-L-L-E-L-U-J-A-H. After all that I couldn't believe that the fine was so cheap and miniscule. Luckily I had enough cash to give the officers, and with that, I didn't even bother sticking around to ask what would have happened if I didn't have any money on me. Yep, that was my first run in with Shanghai's traffic police, but not the last.
My next run in with Shanghai traffic police once again occurred while in route from my Capoeira class in Puxi to my home in Pudong. I was in Xujiahui and this time was riding down one of the district's plethora of tiny and heavily trafficked streets when I hit a corner and stumbled directly into a group of traffic police. It's funny; it was only my second time being pulled over but I felt like I knew the drill and just wanted to get it over with. The fact that I was late to catch the last ferryboat back to Pudong didn't help either.
I tried pleading with the officers and informed them that I only caught wind of a road sign symbolizing that no bicycles were allowed and that I didn't know that it included E-bikes. They'd laugh at me as though I was lying and only respond with their rehearsed phrase: "You must obey China's traffic laws". I paid the 20RMB fine and left. Oh yeah, I'd also end up missing the last ferryboat to Pudong, but that's a whole other story in itself.
Lastly, another run-in with the Shanghai traffic police happened just recently in Pudong while I was making my way to the new Taco Bell in Lujiazui. I had just turned the curb on Binjiang Avenue NEAR Superbrand Mall when I ran into a police stop. Two officers had approached me, asked if I could speak Chinese, then proceeded with, you guessed it: "You must obey China's traffic laws". In this case though, I had driven down this particular street dozens of times before without any issue, so I knew that either the city had just implemented this new rule on Binjiang Road or that traffic police were just out to f*ck with people, of which I'm all too familiar with having been born and raised in Los Angeles.
I argued that I had no knowledge of the road's sudden change of rules, and I once again received that snarly laugh as if I was being dishonest. What's more, the younger policeman present was particularly aggressive in his effort to have me pull my E-bike over and give me a ticket. In fact, he kept repeating, "You broke China's traffic laws" as though he had some sort of vendetta against foreigners. He wasn't overly threatening where I felt intimidated, but it was definitely out of the norm.
After awhile the elder policeman could see that I was telling the truth and he allowed me to go freely, much to the dismay of his partner. I guess some of Shanghai's traffic police are understanding after all.
Whether you're living in Puxi or Pudong, if you're in Shanghai and getting around on E-bike, make sure to drive safe and "obey China's traffic laws!"