Sun 1 Aug 2010 33 °C
In my last entry I bemoaned the number of travelers during the summer months in China. So why did I find myself only a few days later, walking on Nanjing Road in Shanghai, in a crowd of hundreds, feeling exhilarated? Perhaps it is because Shanghai is a city for pedestrians.
Pedestrians have few rights in China. You have the right to get out of the way when a car, bus, truck, motorcycle, bicycle or pedicab honks at you. Streets are a free-for-all, with drivers expertly maneuvering around obstacles without blinking an eye. A taxi driver once motioned to us that it was insulting to put on your seat belt in a taxi. I interpreted it to mean that it said to the driver that you didn't think he was good enough. Drivers will take any means necessary to resist braking, including driving in bike lanes or with oncoming traffic. When cars are in bike lanes, bikes go on sidewalks. There are few crosswalks, and crossing the street can take a leap of faith.
But in Shanghai, their metro system was designed for pedestrians. It is clean, fast, cheap, easy to use and thorough. They have pedestrian-only areas (yes, the motorcycles still find a way....) and specially designed walk ways. Crosswalks count down the change of lights. The massive city was at our doorstep.
On our first night in Shanghai, we found ourselves on the pedestrian area of Nanjing Road engulfed in the massive crowd. We took over the street, forcing the cars to wait, as we moved as one. Our path led us to the area named The Bund, along the river, to see the lights on the other side.
I. Am. Pedestrian.