Sunday, May 1, 2011

Watching a sad sight...

Today is May 1st, which is a holiday here in China, but right now I don't feel to festive.  I saw something that makes me question how efficient emergency services are here in China.  The street we live on is a major street here in Yanji which while busy, the traffic is not heavy.  About a block from us is an intersection with the main east/west artery from the city center.  The traffic on this street is always busy, but the majority of vehicles are either taxis or small busses.  Now crossing the streets here in Yanji is sometimes a bit of an adventure because drivers don't readily yield to pedestrians even if you are in the crosswalk.  If a driver wants to make a left hand turn and their is oncoming traffic or people crossing, as far as the drivers are concerned, its "DAMN THE TORPEDOS, FULL SPEED AHEAD."  But the bus drivers are in a class all their own.  When they are in the inside lane, anywhere from half a block to closer to the intersection, their stop is just to the other side of  it and if the light has or is about to change to red, they have this nasty little habit of pulling into the oncoming lane, blow through the intersection to get to their stop with no consideration of what might be coming.  Many a time I have been crossing the street only to be stopped short as a bus honks its horn a split second before it cuts me off.

Today this practice if it hasn't seriously injured him, may have killed a man.  As I was looking out our apartment window at the intersection I saw a group of people standing in it.  As they moved I noticed a motorcycle on its side, an empty bus stopped just past it, then finally a person lying on the street.  I immediately knew the bus had run a red light and hit him.  As I watched the person and the motorcycle was surrounded by people as a shield while taxis and just weaved their way around and between them.  About 15 minutes later the police finally showed up, but other than taking some pictures but didn't do anything to control the trafffic that was continuing to move in and around the accident scene or appear to render any aid of any sort.  The ambulance didn't show until 35 minutes later and even then they didn't seem to be much in a hurry, which leads me to believe they guy may had been killed.  Less than 15 minutes later the motorcycle was picked up, debris swept away and now the intersection looks like nothing has happened.

Even though I have been driving for over 40 years, incidents like this scare the bejabbers out of me and just reinforces my decision to not drive in Chinese cities.


  1. After what I saw driving (I was a passenger in my bro-in-laws car) from Zhangjiakou to Changzhou recently on what I guess is the equivalent to our interstates, I don't think you want to be driving outside of the cities either! I'll leave you with this gem . . . black traffic cones. They blend in so nicely with the color of the road!

    Oh and Ying is amazed every time we see an ambulance here and 99% of the drivers pull over and let it drive by. She is so impressed.

  2. Chinese people disregard traffic laws, pedestrians don't look before crossing the street. It's madness. I was even in a taxi that started driving on the wrong side of the road towards oncoming traffic. I was a nervous wreck in no time.

  3. Well I need to update what I saw. I talked to my wife who passed the scene with her brother on their way to Helong to visit their parents (I had to stay home and supervise a bathroom remodel). She said that the guy on the motorcycle hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk. She said the guy wasn't bleeding, but the rider was staying with the person. ok, this was not serious, but I still have burned into my memory of a sight I saw back on October 1st, Chinese Independence Day. We had just entered Helong when I saw a taxi stopped at an intersection with nobody in it. Next to the taxi was a lady writhing in pain and a pool of blood on the street. Police had just driven up so my brother in law continued along. That sight still haunts me when I cross a street, especially when the light changes when I am 3/4 the way through the intersection. The last time that happened, I was standing in the middle of the street with my college aged niece, cars were whizzing past on either side of me till it changed again where I was able to make it the rest of the way. Ying, my wife, said if looks could kill, my scowl alone would have slain every driver who passed me.

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