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Road traffic behaviour E-mail
City Life - Report
Written by Tracy 瑾瑾
Did you know that since this year a new regulation is in effect that can impose a fine on those pedestrians who disrespect red traffic lights? Well, incredible 10 RMB is the amount.

I watched a TV report a short while ago where reporters stood on street crossings in Xi'an to give out free prizes for all those pedestrians who actually halted on red traffic lights.

Well, needless to say that noone ever got close to win it, because crossing streets while the light is still on red and a complete disregard of traffic signs and rules is as common as a glass of water unfortunately. And those shiny new light indicators on the traffic lights all around the city doesn't help either to awaken a kind of correct traffic behaviour in people's consciouness.

Today an interesting photograph in a local newspaper caught my attention. It showed a traffic police officer in Xi'an holding back a pedestrian who crossed the street without respecting the red traffic light. He had to pay a 10 RMB fine and did not show any substantial remorse. "Our intention is not to collect as many fines as we can, but to educate people to respect traffic rules such as traffic lights. This is not only for their own safety but for all traffic participants!" said the police officer.

Is it really necessary to impose fines on people who disrespect traffic rules? Shouldn't it be our own inner wish to behave in a responsible manner as traffic participants? Without a proper traffic education that should start in child age, no change can be expected. In Germany, Spain and in other European countries for instance, primary school scolars are being teached about traffic signs and proper and safe behaviour. This is something that should be implemented in primary school class schedules in China as well. It does not necessarily produce responsible traffic participants but it is important to awaken a conscience about this issue at least.

And little 10 RMB fines surely will not help either to arouse correct traffic behaviour.

Expats and so called foreign locals who live in China since many years tend to behave like the locals. That's natural. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" said St. Ambrose in 387 A.D. While this is not a wrong philosophy of adapting to different habits and cultures it should not be adopted to traffic behaviour. With other words, there are expats who do not respect traffic lights as well, once they live here for a time.

One might say, here it does not really matter if the traffic light is green or red because motorcycles, bicycles and cars drive as they please no matter if the light shines red or green here. So, why should pedestrians be any different? And, shouldn't members of the occident should know it better? Yes and no.

A safer road environment depends upon the behaviour and actions of all road users—motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. On any given day, most people use roads to get from one place to another, often combining more than one means of transport. For example, almost everyone is a pedestrian for a part of almost every trip, even if you are just walking from the car park to the shop. Because we are different road users at different times, it is everyone's responsibility to respect traffic lights/rules, be considerate and not endanger others or ourselves! Start today!

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

The Story behind It: When St. Augustine arrived in Milan, he observed that the Church did not fast on Saturday as did the Church at Rome. He consulted St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, who replied: "When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the Church where you are." The comment was changed to "When they are at Rome, they do there as they see done" by Robert Burton in his Anatomy of Melancholy. Eventually it became "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

Our valuable Editor Tracy 瑾瑾 has been with us since Monday, 28 December 2009.

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+1 #2 Tracy J.Lee 2010-02-06 02:15
haaaa of course~ they might be shouting at you~~ are there the cam over the red lights which can record the cars...?
+1 #1 Lionel Speed 2010-01-26 14:20
I cycled through Red Lights in London too, one of the joys of bike riding! Others might disagree of course.

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