I’ve mentioned some of the quirks of crossing the road in a couple of the cities I’ve been to so far.  Well, Beijing has a pretty big one: cars will straight-up run you over if you’re not paying attention.

In most cities, pedestrians tend to have the right of way when they’re crossing at a crosswalk, or at the very least, cars are somewhat deferential.  Not so in Beijing.  Crossing the road is like playing a real-life game of Frogger, only with life-or-death stakes.

Beijing traffic

You’re not safe once you’re in the middle of the road away from the turning area, either — cars will do these crazy, super-wide turns (presumably to weave around pedestrians) and they’ll sometimes get within inches of where you’re walking.

And then there are the scooters, which seem to exist in a completely lawless state where they can go wherever they want, whenever they want.  As far as I can tell, traffic lights don’t apply to them at all, and yet they’re essentially little motorcycles, so that’s fun.

On a trip to Shanghai last year, a distracted guy on a scooter was headed straight towards me on a crosswalk; I had to dive out of the way to avoid being hit.  It’s kinda nuts.

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