Saturday, September 27, 2008

And another thing.....

..... that bugs me about Chinese behaviour on the roads:

Cyclists will always cut corners.


And, of course, without any attempt to slow down, or to watch out for people or vehicles emerging from the side roads they are about to enter.

Even though this means nearly hitting the wall or the kerb on the inside of the corner (quite often, actually hitting the wall or kerb!).

Even though this means running over irregular road surface, potholes, recently refilled trenches, blocked drain puddles, etc. at the near side of the corner.

Even though this means cutting dangerously in front of people who are trying to cross the junction and have almost reached the sidewalk they are skirting so close to. (Actually, this is kind of a separate - but equally irritating - phenomenon: Chinese cyclists always try to pass in front of pedestrians crossing the road. Always. Never behind. No matter what the road conditions. No matter how much space there is to pass safely behind you. No matter how close you are to the far kerb. They always try to whizz in front of you, to force you to stop in your tracks, to run over your toes.)

Even though this means maximising their chances of colliding head-on with a person or a vehicle coming out of the blind-spot just around the corner.

This happened to me while I was out jogging yesterday. A woman approaching me on a bicycle suddenly veered into the side entrance that I was just finishing crossing. I was keeping right to the edge of the road, so as to try to keep out of her way. I had actually just passed the entrance she was heading for. I was running on a bumpy patch of earth where a small roadworking ditch had just been filled in. And the bloody woman decided to cut the corner so sharply that she ran into me anyway. Even though this meant that she was wobbling around over the bumps of the filled-in ditch. Even though this meant she would probably have clipped the near edge of the wall (if she hadn't had me to use as a cushion). Even though this meant that she couldn't possibly see anyone or anything that might be about to come out of this entrance. Just utterly, completely bloody CRAZY.

And I'm pretty sure she saw me - but didn't respond at all. A lot of Chinese road-users, and bicyclists in particular, seem to completely ignore everyone else on the roads and just assume that it is other people's duty to somehow avoid them (a duty that they are mysteriously trusted to perform, even though they are all behaving in exactly the same way).

I'm sorry to say that, for once, I completely lost it: I just screamed blue murder at the stupid woman for 20 or 30 seconds. She could have broken my bloody leg, for chrissakes. She could have got herself killed. She probably will do if she carries on riding like that.

Half an hour later, I almost got hit by someone else, in very similar circumstances.

It is one of the great disincentives to jogging outdoors in this country, and especially in this city. Oiveh.

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