Across Continents

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Rules of the road

Scant regard the norm. Few having any demonstrative grasp of good roadcraft. Even less exhibiting consideration for other road users. Traffic Police a frequent sight. Evidence of enforcement far less so. Except in Nanchang. In the centre, marshals at every junction to ensure cyclists adhere to the tracks running parallel to the main routes.

Laudable enough? If you’re an ambling Chinese rider, without a care in the world. And not a smidgen of spatial awareness. Or a home to go to. Yes. But when you’ve distance to cover. And you ride at a pace that easily keeps up with the traffic. Cars an impediment to your progress. Then no. Definitely not. It’s the old rules, fools and the wise thing.

Being a foreigner – an alien – means I probably get away with more than others. The language barrier not always a bad thing. Then there’s my urban riding style. Bold. Swift. Confident. Road presence. Allowed to ride amongst the electric bikes because they assume my substantial rear wheel hub is a motor. How else could I sustain the pace? After all, no dérailleur gears.

It’s not that I set out to deliberately flout whatever passes for the highway code here. More a case of adhering to local customs. Still stop at traffic lights. Much to the amusement of others. An old London commuting habit I can’t seem to shake off. Or really want to. Never quite understood why people seem genuinely surprised that if you jump lights or undertake lorries or buses, there’s a good chance you’ll get flattened.

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