Official traffic rules and regulations can often be hard to unravel in China, especially for foreigners. But never fear! Officials are now apparently organizing seminars to help expats understand the “finer points of Shanghai’s traffic laws.”
Shanghai Daily reports that the Jing’an Exit and Entry Administration recently organized an hour-long workshop for employees of companies at the Shibei Hi-tech Park. There was a powerpoint presentation and Q&A sessions, breaking down which traffic offenses laowai most often misunderstood.
“Top of the list,” said police officer Wei Wei, “is e-bike riders carrying a pillion.”
Other frequently spotted violations include “people riding motorized bikes without a helmet, failing to register e-bikes, and traveling in the wrong direction along the road,” he said.
In case you, like us, were unaware, a “pillion” refers to a seat for a passenger behind a motorcyclist. One British man confessed to Shanghai Daily that he had been guilty of this crime in the past, but hadn’t known that what he was doing was wrong. “It was good to get some information, because sometimes it might be a bit unclear for foreigners in terms of what is legal and what is illegal,” he said.
“I don’t think many foreigners in Shanghai know the local rules. Because many people don’t know, and then they don’t follow that,” echoed another attendee.
To test what the foreigners had learned, police then escorted them outside to the intersection of Nanjing Road and Shaanxi Road, to see if they could spot any lawbreakers… it didn’t take too long. “I’ve stopped three or four violations already,” one trainee said.
Jing’an police say that they plan to host more of these seminars in the future. However, in case you aren’t lucky enough to attend, here are five traffic rules you should be aware of:
1. Riding pillion is illegal on all motorized bikes
Which probably comes as news to the thousands of grandparents who give their grandchildren rides home from school every day.
2. The wearing of safety helmets is compulsory for motorized bike riders
Though, strangely, such headgear is a rare sight on the city’s streets.
3. All motorized bikes must be registered with the police
Secondhand e-bike buyers take note.
4. All bikes, motorized or not, are banned from being ridden on sidewalks or zebra crossings
This ubiquitous practice really is against the law, as a Shanghai Daily journalist found to his cost just yesterday.
5. International driving permits are invalid in Shanghai, but can be used to obtain a local license
To get the latter you will be required to sit a theory test.
This effort at educating the laowai would seem to have been sparked by an incident last month in which a Brazillian student was arrested for evading an officer while running a red light in Jing’an district — even as he was carrying a pillion no less!
While the motorcycle didn’t have a number plate, police were able to use surveillance footage to track down the man. In an interview with local reporters, he pleaded ignorance to his crimes, saying that he hadn’t seen the officer and hadn’t known that he needed a license for a motorcycle in China.
With these seminars, ignorance of the law will no longer be an excuse.
Although the Jing’an police certainly provide an impressive list of important things to remember, we would like to do our part and add a few more from our own experience:
6. Don’t kick jaywalkers in the butt.
7. Urinating on cabs is strictly forbidden.
8. Buses too.
9. Color blindness is still no excuse for jaywalking.
10. Meditating half-naked in the middle of an intersection is generally frowned upon.
11. And definitely don’t knock down a woman on your unregistered motorbike while driving without a license and working without a visa, unless you want to get deported.
Also, watch out for crazy tractor drivers:
And this dude:
Follow all these rules and you should have no problem!
[Images via Shanghai Daily]