Rules of the Road

08/04/2013

Yesterday I saw an electric bike get crushed by a car.  The bike was crossing on green, the car was going straight on red.  Then a few hours later I saw a pedestrian get hit by a car while she was walking on a sidewalk.  The car was driving in reverse on a sidewalk and the driver wasn’t watching behind him.  These incidents reminded me to remind you…..BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!  And for those of you who are new to our city, here are just a few things I’ve learned about how to safely (or perhaps with less frustration) navigate the city.
1.  I’ve heard traffic flow described like downhill skiing….one is only responsible for what is in front of them.  This means bikes swerving side to side or people stopping in the middle of the flow of traffic aren’t at fault, the folks who run into them are.
2.  There are more protected left turns now than before, but generally left turns are made at the end of the green light.
3.  Most big intersections now have traffic police in the center or a citizen with a whistle and a flag  making sure you stop on red.  Give them a break and listen to them.  Their job has to be rough.
4.  Share space when you can.  If a car is parked in the bike lane, bikes move over to the car lane, and cars move over to the left lane.  Just go with the flow.
5.  Give a courtesy “honk,” “beep,” or “squeak” as you pass someone if they are getting to close to you or the road is narrowing.
6.  When in a head to head situation with another vehicle, I’ve learned that swerving whichever way feels most unnatural to me as a Westerner generally ends up avoiding the encounter.  And you can bank on the fact that in a head to head situation older Chinese women will get off their bike and walk along side it until the situation is abated.
7.  No matter the color of the light or the direction traffic should be coming from, always, ALWAYS, A L W A Y S, look both ways before crossing.  Please.  (This piece of advice is coming from someone who was once hit by a bus while crossing in the crosswalk while the light was green).

Do other people have other helpful traffic rules or observations?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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