Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

Driving in China!

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' at netrider.net.au started by POPEYE, May 3, 2011.

  1. I just got back from my 2nd trip to China which included Hong Kong, Ghounzo, Guilin, Yanshou, Beijing & man what a crazy place on the roads!



    Each city has its own distinct driving culture.... Hong Kong, similar to the UK /AU fairly organized. Ghounzo, fast flowing traffic, full of overpasses, lots of 4-5 lane roads with dedicated bike lanes, yet very sloppy & constant lane changes, virtually no one indicates. Guilin (must have the worlds highest ratio of limbless beggers to supercars) generally slow but extremely chaotic, think sea of moving metal, bikes, trikes, car, trucks, buses, bicycles, pedestrians, mopeds anything you can think of on wheels. Beijing, massive streets (6x lanes each way at times) sometimes fast flowing, at times extreme traffic jams, you miscalculate your route or you travel in peak hour & you can be late by hours!

    I spent alot of time travelling around in cars & buses, always on the edge of my seat, always thinking....great i am going to die today or worse still i am going to be terribly injured & my life will depend on the Chinese medical system. so many close calls, nearly killed 2x pedestrian, very scary yet did not see one accident....everyone seems to drive like they are all interconnected through ESP?

    Alot of my fear was due to seatbelts or lack there off alot of chinese taxis & of passenger cars have their rear seat seatbelts ripped out of them...why? cause they get in the way! btw when you put your seatbelt on in china people look at you like "are you insulting my driving skill, why are your preparing for a crash?". So your sitting there as mr wang fangio taxi driver skillfuly weaves through traffic inches from all manner of traffic including my personal favourite entire family on scooter including newborn baby... thinking: man i dont want to end up bleeding to death on one of those shock sites!

    the amazing thing is China has incredibly well serviced concrete roads, virtually no pot holes, very flat surfaces & this is not just in the major cities but just about everywhere, in comparison our mainly bitumen roads are 3rd world. On the plus side they have countless buses to anywhere & everywhere & when they want to build a highway or overpass they just do it...no need to consult anyone.

    Secondly despite the insane crazyness on the roads no one ever seems to get angry...people just get alittle annoyed, at times beep their horns & then move on, you can virtually do anything in traffic there, stop randomly, cut people off, u turns whenever, travel the wrong down a one way street, create your own lanes, run red lights...when you cross the street, you dont just look left then right you look all around.

    the fact is people seem to commute to get from point A to B...despite the challenges poeple just accept it & move on

    what does this have to do with bikes? well i was planning to ride the country side there but chose not, the traffic was just scary & the right of way on the roads is in the order of largest vehicle, smaller vehicles then pedestrians. Motorcycles are given very little respect...you get in the way & you die...simple.

    we are very lucky in australia that in general despite the lack of policing on anything but drink driving and speeding that most people generally obey the roads rules which allows us to enjoy motorcycling as a hobby...you could never ride a big bike in china you wouldn't last long...i think i only saw one big foreign bike the whole time i was there & that was a honda hornet.

    i was certainly glad to be back in Sydney, the english language, the fresh air, the freedom, the of lack of visible corruption, the lack of spruikers, salesman & beggers....but i certainly noticed one thing:

    the egos driving around on our roads....the oversensitive drivers who go mental if someones is abit slow, tailgate, speed past beeping their horns. the dirty looks from drivers who feel threatened because you entered their personal space, the guys in their muscle cars who feel the need to unleash their V8's in quiet urban back streets & the tailgaters who rather tailgate when they could simply overtook......

    but the funny thing is after coming back from china, none of this bothers me anymore..... not one bit ; p
     
     Top
  2. Thanks Popeye, my recollections are very similar. The chaos seems to just work, very little agro and few major accidents.
    My heart in mouth moment was being driven from Tungshan to Handan on a pitch black, foggy night (the white painted tree trunks and the black and white kerbs are so important). We were travelling between 100 and 160 kmh in this pitch blackness, when we slammed on the brakes, there was a load of gravel taking up our lane and half of the opposite. No signs or lights, nothing. Nearly shat myself. The driver was a bit more conservative for the rest of the trip.
     
     Top
  3. That was my interpretation too. If they tried to enforce the law with all those 2 and three wheeled vehicles then it would just be gridlock. At the moment it works and once you go with the flow it's actually no more dangerous than being stuck with mr and mrs over hesitant or aggressive lane weaver.

    Seems like Popeye can away with a different feeling.
     
     Top
  4. I did a road trip in India in 2006 and it was similar there. It is amazing how quick it goes from feeling scary to when you finally get it and start just riding the wave and it all feels normal.

    I remember after a week or so, going out of Kashmir, was on a two lane highway, I was overtaking a tuktuk who was overtaking a truck and a scooter coming the other way just moved over and we went through four wide. I had done that all without thinking and it didn't even seem scary, we were only doing 30-40km/h though. A minute after I realised what had happened and laughed to myself that I had become a local rider.

    When I got back I found it hard not to use my horn so much. It was annoying everyone because horn means "f*ck you" here rather than "please be careful I am here" like it should. There it means "I am coming through- be careful".

    It isn't always might is right, its more lets all work together to make this the best for everyone. You will stop for trucks because you know that it takes them a long time for them to get up to speed, but I also often got them waving us through on the bikes if they were stopped on the mountain passes and we could overtake or pass quickly without really slowing them down. Here they wouldn't be that cooperative.
     
     Top
  5. So true POPEYE ! I laughed very loudly when reading your post, not out of disrespect, nor disbelief. On the contrary, I totally agree and constantly witness the 'chaotic' yet almost nil-accident rate in Hong Kong during my very regular visits there.
    When I lived in the Fragrant Harbour (back in Melbourne now for 1yr) for ~8yrs, I'd overnight in many Asian cities during work travels. From buses, to taxi's, to tuk-tuks, to mopeds, to pushbikes etc..you name it.
    Some of the crap you'd see on the roads in those parts made me long for 'home, sweet home' and, like yourself, counted each and every day cautiously, wondering which would be the one that I'd be killed as a passenger on public transport.
    Only with this experience can I comment that we're not far from this 'mentality' and chaotic behaviour in our parts, here at home. I think stress is eventually getting to everyone, worldwide. Increased population, higher stress levels leading to less tolerance etc etc. But it still makes me wonder (especially with Asians having a much smaller 'bubble of comfort' around them compared to us) how their accident rate isn't astronomically high ???
    VicRoads, RTA, MVR.... I hope you're paying attention !
    Good to hear you made it back safely mate (y)
     
     Top
  6. I'm a regular traveller to China and one of the scaryest things I saw in a city called Shaoxing was a pillion passenger riding on a bike in heavy traffic with her arms stretched out on both sides. Couldn't figure out what she was doing until I got closer and realise she was holding a big piece of plate glass. They all seem so oblivious to such obvious risks. Annoyed I didn't have my camera with me at the time.
     
     Top
  7. Plate Glass ???!!!! Bloody hell !
    I hope she didn't use that as another means of 'foreseeing her future', fortune-cookie style..

    'One who look through glass see world in bigger way'
     
     Top
  8.  Top
  9. Thanks for that, Vertical C. What I'd like to know (now that you have the statistics handy (y)) is per what population are these accidents based on, compared to other places around the world ?

    This all ties in well then with what's occurring in our cities, Sydney and Melbourne as 2 examples. Melbourne's population has increased by 600,000 in a short amount of time - this has been mentioned in a similar thread herein a little while ago). We're all noticing this daily - roads are more congested (peak hour ? pffft !) outside of 'busy times', people are getting more impatient, stressed...how long will this go until 'China' (again, one example based on this context) 'comes to Australia' ?
    Many will argue that has already happened :D
     
     Top
  10. As per article cited it is per 10000 vehicles.

    BEIJING: China has the highest road accident death rate in the world with 5.1 fatal cases for every 10,000 motor vehicles in 2007.

    The world average is two deaths per 10,000 vehicles, a source at the second China Traffic Safety Forum quoted by official Xinhua news agency said.


    Hmm Australia is 1.196 per 10000 Vehicles according to this http://www.monash.edu.au/muarc/reports/papers/fatals.html though I might be booed for citing that reference.
     
     Top