Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back in The Traffic

We spent a month in the US, which was a great trip. I've been very busy since returning, mostly teaching classes day and night. It didn't take long to readjust to life here, especially surviving the daily challenges that Chinese streets bring. It brings to mind the old Atari game, Frogger, with the frog trying to negotiate various crossings without getting whacked.

In China, when crossing such a a two lane, two way street, the pedestrian makes a break for the center line as soon as there is a lack of cars coming from the left. You assume the motorcycles will dodge around you. If you stop to try and yield to them, it screws their timing up, and you risk getting hit. When the traffic from the right stops, you finish crossing.
While in Seattle, I was trying to cross such a street. Nobody was coming from the left, so I made a break for the center line. All the cars in the opposite lane came to a sudden stop to allow me to finish crossing. They actually yielded to the pedestrian!!!!! I was completely taken aback, and felt a little ashamed for making the mighty cars stop, but managed to finish crossing.
I never could feel completely comfortable taking walks in orderly, obedient American sidewalks and streets. After living here I have developed a kind of radar/eyes in the back of my head that keep me alerted to electric motorbikes silently zipping up behind me on the sidewalk, people driving against traffic, motorbikes using crosswalks, cars using sidewalks, and countless other vehicular idiocies that can cause injuries. Even in quiet, sedate Ashland, Oregon, I kept expecting some dick on a bald tired, blue smoke belching, motorcycle speeding out of nowhere with whiny horn blaring causing me to spring out of his way. I guess I have Third World Traffic PTSD.

1 comment:

  1. Traffic in Seattle is tragic--2 bike riders hit and killed by cars within 3 weeks in the S. Lake Union area. To make it worse, one was a hit-and-run.
    WHY are we in such a HURRY?


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