Vehicles Come First, Not Pedestrians
Watch Out For Scooters
Buses are Scary
Those Food Delivery Drivers ...
People Walk Into the Street Without Looking
PEOPLE Don't Look Both Ways
Here’s the scenario: You're on your scooter and in the bike lane, but this time you're heading against the flow of traffic. The lane is big enough, so why not? As you cruise along a pedestrian walks into the lane but only looks towards the on coming traffic. And then WHAM! You run right into them. Is it their fault for not looking both ways or your fault for technically riding on the wrong side of the street?
In China it's very common to see cyclists and scooters riding in the bike lanes against the direction of traffic. It's perfectly fine to do so, though you'd think that people should know to stay on the side that follows the flow of traffic. At the same time, it's very natural for someone to walk into the street and only look towards the direction of traffic flow, though you'd also think that they should know to 'always look both ways before walking into the street’.
The bottom line: If you get behind the wheels of a bicycle or scooter in China, try to ride on the side of the road with the same traffic flow and keep an eye out for pedestrians that are crossing into the lanes. Likewise, if you are a pedestrian on the road in China, always make sure to look both ways before stepping into the lanes.
Right Turn, But No Looking Left
Here's the scenario: You're on your scooter in the bike lane and on the right side of the road. You pass an intersection. Someone on their scooter—also in the bike lane on the right side of the road but riding down the street your crossing—stays at full speed, doesn't slow down, and doesn’t even turn to look at the you or the oncoming traffic once. They turn right and into your lane, nearly causing you to fall off your scooter as you swerve out the way to miss them.
Even though they're turning into your lane, it's an unwritten rule that it’s YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to get out of their way. I'd mark this as one of the most common items to be careful of when on the road in China.
Vehicles Force Themselves Through
It doesn't matter who you are or how busy the intersection is--I've seen drivers aggressively turn curbs and push through crowds that include children, women, and elderly. Always look left and behind you before crossing the right side of the street in China.
Cars Turning Left
Here's the scenario: You're heading North by foot, car, or scooter. The light is red and you've stopped in traffic. AS SOON as it turns green, the first car in the turning lane heading South swerves in front of everyone, nearly causing an accident with everyone heading North. This is all too common and is something you should look out for, ESPECIALLY if you're on a scooter.
Wild Swinging Doors
I always try to be aware of 'wild swinging doors' when cycling or riding my scooter on the road in China. If there's no bike lane, 9 times out of 10 I'll be riding closest to the parked cars along the road where anyone could swing open their car door at anytime and knock you me traffic. Make sure to ride slow when you are next to cars and try to keep a safe distance.
Turning Signals & Abrupt Stops
Oh, and by the way, this refers to if they're using any turning signals at all. I'd say that people in cars and buses tend to follow suit; however, it's RARE for people driving scooters to use their blinkers.
Keep an eye out for these situations because not only does it take a LONG time for the parties to figure out how to deal with the situation, but the cars may also end up making a sudden jerk or move that could put you at risk if you’re passing by.
Let's Play Chicken
Here's the scenario, or better yet, remember that car chase scene at the end of Bad Boys where Martin Lawrence races against the villain to see who will be first to pass through a small space in a wall-barricade? Yep, that's EXACTLY how it is.
People Don't Follow the Rules When Breaking the Rules
Here's the scenario: You're on a scooter sitting in traffic. You're a far ways down from the traffic light and can't see ahead because there are large cars and trucks blocking your view. The traffic begins to move and you move with it. Suddenly a pedestrian that jaywalked across the street hops out in front of you from the spaces in-between the cars and WHAM! Trouble in paradise.
If you're going to break the law on the road, at least do it the right way. This jaywalker shouldn’t have tried to cross the street through traffic in the first place, but hey, it happens. Moreover, in doing so they should have taken more precautions to make eye contact with drivers and stop to look at oncoming vehicles while they maneuver around. Understand now?
Additionally, I always recommended to newbies in China that they wait at least three months before buying a scooter or car in China. It's best to familiarize yourself with both the written AND unwritten rules of the road before throwing yourself full speed into the chaos. Hey, just take your time. Safe and happy travels!