Posted in China

On chinese roads patience is necessary

Traffic jam at a roadcrossing in Dianbai

In general, road traffic in this country is somewhat problematic. Twenty years ago, there were still relatively few individual private cars, and taxis alongside buses were the main means of transport in the city centers. Meanwhile, the streets of cities are overflowing with mostly large cars. In addition, small motorcycles and electric mopeds or simple mopeds are also very widespread.
On trunk roads, traffic is usually only very dense in the vicinity of larger cities, especially out of town, where long phases of traffic lights usually lead to long traffic jams. However, there is often an alternative for many of the overland connections, but sometimes it’s still under construction, and a network of motorways also carries a large proportion of long-distance and especially heavy goods traffic. I only see that sometimes in the distance, bicycles are of course not allowed there.

Sign post to Wuchuan and Guangzhou

The overland connections are usually very easy to drive, often with two directional lanes plus hard shoulder, if the surface is not too old and extended and the hard shoulder is no longer usable, the surface is bumpy overall and you have to pay more attention to the road surface than to traffic.
But that happens rather rarely and I had it really unpleasant so far only on a section of the G325 between Yangjiang and Enping for a few kilometers. However, since there is the G15 as a parallel expressway at a distance of only a few hundred meters, the traffic on this section was manageable.
Otherwise there is practically always a wide hard shoulder so that as a cyclist I theoretically always have enough distance from the traffic. But unfortunately it’s not always that simple.

As soon as traffic stops somewhere, some clever driver comes up with the idea to try on the right side of the shoulder to see if it can’t go on, only to find out that it just doesn’t work and then slowly roll back into the lane, unless someone else has quickly moved up. So the hard shoulder is blocked even if this action had not previously pushed aside the two-wheeler that was just rolling at the same height. Thoughtfulness is not widespread.

The inner cities are totally annoying, especially in smaller towns. Rule number one: when I come, I have right of way and I always announce that I am coming with a loud horn. No matter if moped, tricycle, car, mini truck, truck, mini van, or whatever. The worst are buses, because they are also still right :). Or something like that.

No country where no more and more useless beeps are honored than here. Sometimes it’s so – ahhh, disgusting; not because they mean me as a little cyclist and want to blast me from the street, but because this is obviously the official language of all road users. It is also believed to be the cause of many early hearing loss.

The second principle is also very simple: don’t pay attention to others, just drive. So far I’ve only seen a slight collision between two e-mopeds and drove myself a pannier because the guy coming from an angle to the right just kept it on like I did. I had to get used to a really defensive driving style here. Because the next driving principle is the swarm principle (i.e. at least the mopeds with each other): always stay at the same height and if the gap arises, it is best to go straight in, or even better, bypass it. The ones behind you keep the distance if they themselves are in the worse position.

I don’t know if there are really rules. Mopeds and other two or three-wheelers (sometimes also cars and small trucks that want to go to the next turning point) always drive in both directions on both sides of the road. The oncoming people usually (but not necessarily) on the outside – so they push something like left-hand traffic on the shoulder. No real problem, you can see each other in time, but it does mean that if a car or small truck also blocks the right side of the road (another common peculiarity), or maybe there are several vehicles there, because a dealer there is offering particularly nice fruit – preferably the cars stand next to each other also slightly in the right lane – then you always have to reckon with the fact that if you just pass this narrow point, a two-wheeler will come towards you and force you even further into the lane, or just slows down. So I can never just want to drive my pace, I always have to expect to have to stop or avoid the next moment. Sometimes I’m stubborn, but I quickly learned that I couldn’t get very far in this way here in this country.

The larger streets usually have a barrier between the two directions of travel, both in the city centers and outside, provided that the street has more than one lane in each direction. Turning over or simply turning to the left is only possible on gaps in this barrier, which is often also available with a pedestrian crosswalk, with a small step within the barrier that cannot be crossed by vehicles. Every few hundred meters there are gaps for turns, even for larger vehicles. These are always dangerous spots when a car wants to turn there, does not dare to block the left lane, or turns leisurely into oncoming traffic and brakes it briefly with a honking horn to quasi thread it itself. Therefore, only 40 km / h are allowed in urban areas, sometimes less, sometimes never more than 80 km / h outside – but nobody adheres to them.

Der Anteil an Fahrrädern im Straßenverkehr ist offenbar sehr gering in den Städten, eher werden sie noch von älteren Leuten genutzt, die damit vermutlich groß geworden sind, auf dem Land sehe ich sie öfter. Dafür gibt es in den größeren Innenstädten viele Leihfahrräder, oft auch als Pedelecs, die man mit einer App ausleihen kann. Es gibt dafür verschiedene Anbieter (meist Moo Bikes) und in manchen Städten stehen die meist ziemlich einfachen Dinger überall herum, genau wie zuhause.

The proportion of bicycles on the road is apparently very low in the cities, rather they are still used by older people, who probably grew up with them, in the countryside I see them more often. There are many rental bikes in the larger city centers, often as pedelecs, which can be rented with an app. There are different providers (mostly “moo bikes”) and in some cities these mostly pretty simple things are everywhere, just like at home in Berlin.


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