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Mainlanders Perplexed by Polite Traffic Etiquette in Macau

Posted: 12/23/2014 4:02 pm

macau stopping for pedestrians trafficYou wouldn’t think that a story about drivers voluntarily stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks and pedestrians patiently waiting at traffic lights would be news, but in China, it is.

For the uninitiated, traffic in mainland China is not about yielding to others. Instead, the “right of way” is something given to whomever can get there first. Chinese roads are treacherous, as both aggressive driving and jaywalking are common.

That’s why this CCTV report, which was about Macau, has attracted so much attention.

macau stopping for pedestrians trafficChinese people have long said that the aggressiveness on the roads is cultural, and how Chinese people get things done in time. The fact the politeness happened in Macau – a Chinese territory filled with Chinese residents – was perplexing.

Many commentators scoffed at the Macau example, saying it wouldn’t work in the mainland:

If it was like this on the mainland… when going to work in the morning, you’d wait until it turned dark before you were able to pass the pedestrian crossing.

If it was like this on the mainland, drivers would not be able to move…

Actually, it’s like this everywhere outside of China: cars will all stop for people! They’ll willingly brake and let you (pedestrians) go first! However, the problem is that there are few foreigners (in China)!!
Have you ever considered all the cars in line that are held up when the car in front stops for a pedestrian in China? What’s more, are you able to stop for all the pedestrians here?

macau pedestrian crossing

Idiot. How many people are there in Macau versus how many people in mainland China? Complying to these terms would mean heavy traffic congestion.

This works as long as the population is low. To institute this on the mainland would to cause a traffic jam that would be backed up right to the base of the Great Wall of China.

It’s not that they can’t learn. With so many people in China, there’s no way to let them go (ahead).

If you read other comments, you’ll see that the problem isn’t too many people, but the pedestrians themselves:

It’s not that they won’t learn (to follow the Macau custom), it’s that mainland Chinese pedestrians don’t have the ability to see while drivers wait at intersections (for them). Don’t think about trying to trying to take the car out for a drive in the morning. If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself.

So many people… when witnessing the morning and evening rush hour… (a legion that is) simply without end. 

On the other hand, some say that it is the drivers that are causing the problem:

I have personally experienced the pedestrian crosswalks in Macau! Everyday while going to work an electric scooter or two nearly collides with me. You’re taking your life in your own hands when commuting to work or back home.

Others say the discrepancy is because Macau follows laws:

According to traffic rules, Macau drivers have it very different than mainland drivers. Drivers must completely stop for pedestrians at a pedestrian crosswalk, or when pedestrians have the green light. As they must wait until pedestrians are one meter away from their cars before driving off, drivers can not transgress upon the safety of pedestrians. On the other hand, people who cross against red lights will still be dealt with under the law if they are hit.

Harsh penalties will instill good habits. (Bad driving is a sign of the) unresigned determination that typifies all mainlanders located up until the Yellow River.

Before we write off the entire mainland, many pointed out that fellow tourist town Hangzhou has drivers that are similarly courteous to those in Macau:

It’s like this in Hangzhou, too.

Hangzhou is able to do this, though there are pedestrians that cross when the light is red.

I’ve stayed in Hangzhou for an extended time. Hangzhou drivers will stop for pedestrians at crosswalks!

macau pedestrian crossing And a few more:

The normal compliance of traffic rules has become a system of learning by example.]

One country, two systems…

No traffic lights! Either (you’re a pedestrian) that gets run over by a car, or (a driver) that gets swindled! (implying a use of the “broken vase” trick)

Macau is rich, but what does the mainland have? A Macau passport has all types of visa exemptions, but what (benefits) does a mainland visa have?

One more thing Macau has are traffic-awareness programs that promote safety at pedestrian crossings. If mainland China wants to follow Macau’s example, they’ll need to hire these guys, and their costumes.

macau stopping for pedestrians trafficPhotos: aomenshizheng, macaocp, CCTV

  • Zen my Ass

    Mainlanders are in shock there is a world outside the Mainland.

    • lacompacida


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  • ChinaBroc

    Saw a body with a cop standing over it on the road in Shenzhen last week, (unfortunately, so did my 5 year old). She apparently jaywalked -which I don’t think has an equivalent word for it in China.

  • lacompacida

    Never heard of walk/don’t walk lights for pedestrians ? China is more civilized and modern than I expected.

  • hewenkang

    The good old ‘China has to many people’-excuse. A mainland city doesn’t even make it in this list of the most densely populated cities in the world. Macau does.

  • cobbler

    living and working 13 years in China,have drivers license for 7 years now and do also drive myself….no patience ever !!!,change lanes,passing red light and blocking the crossing , completely obstructing the traffic themselves, they complain oooh so busy …its your own fault as never obey any rules,in the cars they feel like king , calling in the car, reducing speed to 20 km per hour and drive on the left lane…its ME ME ME !! nr 1worst drivers in the world !!!! bravo…

  • Mangrove

    Courtesy on the roadways is a very foreign thing. Jumping in line at McDonalds or the airport boarding line is just carried over to the vehicle here but has far more dangerous consiquiences.
    Stopping in your lane to take a mobile phone call. Backing up on the busy highway because you missed the exit ramp. Making a left turn from the right hand lane, cutting off those cars that are going straight ahead. Parking your car in the traffic lane to go in the store to buy some noodles.
    A fender bender can block traffic for hours while the drivers wait for the insurance rep to show up.
    Cross walks and traffic lights are only for reference and to be ignored should you be in a hurry for your mahjong game.
    Common sense does not apply, regardless if you are a pedestrian or driver here in the “Middle Kingdom”.
    The only way to get the attention of offenders is by getting in their pocket. Large fines would do the trick over night.
    But for now … watch your ass because you are invisible and don’t matter to the new BMW owner.
    You can teach road safety, issue fines (give the cops something to do besides pick their noses) but you can’t teach common sense and common sense is in short supply here.

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