Driving in China: An extreme activity

Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
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Trip End Mar 28, 2010


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Flag of China  ,
Thursday, December 10, 2009

While it may not be as chaotic as driving in India, China does give one the same sense of "I don't know how we just survived that" when being in a car sometimes.  I don't mean this to say that the drivers are unsafe (somehow they are).  But rather, they are not predictable by my Western standards.  This makes defensive driving even more critical as I probably would not want to drive in the city in the near future because my brain has not been wired in the same way as locals.  Much like if I were to have to start driving in the left lanes.

It probably doesn't help that everyday over a thousand new cars are added to the already traffic-jammed roads within in the city.  Whether upgrading public transportation is in question since every installation only serves to just keep up the saturation of people.  I thought perhaps, they could take a page from California where the innermost and "fastest" lane is the carpool or HOV one.  The problem then is, could one even make the cross over to it?

Taxi drivers are definitely the most extreme drivers.  Incidentally, these are the people who I ride with the most when not using the metro.  The trick is to avoid the congested areas altogether by taking the taxi to the nearest metro station whenever one is downtown and then from the end station again if needed.  Being in the often crowded metro is a good trade-off from watching the meter gradually tick in the awkward silence with the taxi driver who can only inch forward with the pedal or sing his favorite songs on the radio.  It may seem somewhat of a hassle, at times, but by local standards is usually the cheaper and most efficient one.

What then is my personal response?  From a fresh-air loving person, I hope that when I return to the US, I can live within walking distance to many places and perhaps I will invest in a used Prius. 
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