Red light runners and pedestrian traffic

I made a decision some time ago to stop driving so much and get off these crazy roads for fear of being killed or worse, laid up in a hospital with a broken neck/back/paralysed.

Now I am not so sure that I have made a good decision.

Most Forumosans who live outside of Taipei probably know Taiwan is not a pedestrian-friendly country. The lack of sidewalks and the use of sidewalks for business negates numerous safewalking situations. So most people walk on the street and dodge traffic.

But I since I reduced the commuting I did by scooter and began walking more and using the MRT, I think my life has been in more danger from idiot TW drivers who run red lights and ignore pedestrians who are legally using the crosswalks and sidewalks. I have had at least three close calls where cars have actually brushed up against me while they weave through busy crosswalks, and have been forced to stop crossing a street on numerous occasions because car traffic refused to yield to pedestrians.

Today a motorcycle that was running a red light came within inches of hitting me as I crossed the street on a crosswalk because I had the green light, which doesn’t mean much in this country most of the time.

I have also witnessed at least one extremely close call when a TW driver did not look when he was turning left on a green light and came within inches of directly hitting a pedestrian legally crossing the street on a green light. What…these drivers don’t expect one of dozens of people to be crossing a street? Honestly, they look shocked when they realise people are indeed exercising their right to legally cross the street.

I would love to hear from others on this subject. I think drivers are hoping that if they look like they are not going to stop, people will back off and let them through but I don’t and it really shocks them. Other people see me crossing and join me even though it is their right to do so because they have the green crossing light in their favor. Certainly I understand traffic has to move but not at the expense of dead, injured and scared pedestrians.

On Sunday I literally had to help an elderly lady across the street at a marked crosswalk on a green light becuase so many cars were turning onto the street that she was scared of crossing. I have also had to do that for my gal and her daughter on a couple of occasions because they were terrified of the traffic that should have been stopped. The couldn’t believe I was crossing the street on a (gasp) green light. :astonished:

The selfish behavior of TW drivers cutting each other off is something I am used to but this selfish “Me First” attitude of bullying people off crosswalks is astounding. I like to think they just don’t know the rules of the road but if the crosswalk is packed with pedestrians, it is pretty obvious you should at least wait until most of them have crossed the street.

Many years ago, during a Chinese class, we were asked: What is the most dangerous activity in Taiwan?
I replied ‘walking’. There was a long silence. Blank.
This is not only in Taiwan. It’s everywhere in big cities.

To be fair, most drivers do slow down at crosswalks. It’s not really their fault that some genius decided that pedestrian crossings should be green at the same time as some traffic signal (say, filter left/right) is also green.

It’s more often the usual suspects: kids running red lights, a-fu in his SUV who thinks he owns the road (or is too short to see over the steering wheel), etc.

A few years ago I was crossing the street (on a pedestrian crossing, my green) and some daft bint just to my left starts crawling forwards (through her red light). I thought - no, she’s not going to try to run me over, surely? I kept walking, and she kept crawling, until she actually did bump me. I found I couldn’t physically move out of the way - it’s hard to sidestep when there’s a car pushing you over - so I banged on her hood as hard as I could and looked right at her. She had this dozy expression on her face, like “goodness - there’s a … thing in front of my car”. She stopped for a fraction of a second, I carried on walking (a bit faster and with a bit more clearance) … and she kept on moving. Still her red. Everyone else was waiting, like normal people. I had to give her car another thump to make her stop (she was three inches away from my legs again) and got the hell out of her way. At the other side, I looked behind me, and there she was, still crawling over the crosswalk at 1mph. I have no idea what she thought she was achieving.

In retrospect, it was lucky it wasn’t a-fu in his SUV. He probably would have come out screaming with a tyre iron.

i agree with you 100%

its absolutely shocking. i had my foot nearly crushed by the full weight of a car coming up from behind me. behind, the guy just didnt give a fuck. and i have seen worse happen to others. girls laying motionless in the street ect.

but there are a couple of futile factors at work here, number 1. they don’t think they are driving badly, unsafe or selfishly. even less regard to polluting. my gf has started to come around to the thought that the driving in taiwan is dangerously bad, after about a year straight of nagging from me.

number 2. as was revealed in another thread, the people in power could not give less of a shit about improving things. its a non issue for them. so basically nothing is going to improve driving wise if things stay as they currently are.

[quote=“finley”]To be fair, most drivers do slow down at crosswalks. It’s not really their fault that some genius decided that pedestrian crossings should be green at the same time as some traffic signal (say, filter left/right) is also green.

It’s more often the usual suspects: kids running red lights, a-fu in his SUV who thinks he owns the road (or is too short to see over the steering wheel), etc.

A few years ago I was crossing the street (on a pedestrian crossing, my green) and some daft bint just to my left starts crawling forwards (through her red light). I thought - no, she’s not going to try to run me over, surely? I kept walking, and she kept crawling, until she actually did bump me. I found I couldn’t physically move out of the way - it’s hard to sidestep when there’s a car pushing you over - so I banged on her hood as hard as I could and looked right at her. She had this dozy expression on her face, like “goodness - there’s a … thing in front of my car”. She stopped for a fraction of a second, I carried on walking (a bit faster and with a bit more clearance) … and she kept on moving. Still her red. Everyone else was waiting, like normal people. I had to give her car another thump to make her stop (she was three inches away from my legs again) and got the hell out of her way. At the other side, I looked behind me, and there she was, still crawling over the crosswalk at 1mph. I have no idea what she thought she was achieving.

In retrospect, it was lucky it wasn’t a-fu in his SUV. He probably would have come out screaming with a tyre iron.[/quote]

jesus, i have expected this type of thing to happen as people keep crawling as i cross the road and stare them down but nobody was gormless enough to actually drive into me…

the double cross rule is a joke. there is a blind corner on one of the roads near my house. its very difficult to check what is coming as the road is behind you as you cross and at the same time the lights signal you to cross cars from the left are allowed to pass too. some people dont even check and just keep on walking… all its going to take is one bullheaded idiot driving a lorry to wipe you out. its close to a industrial area too, plenty of lorry’s passing though.

Maybe that’s in Asia. Not in Europe!

Well, not all the big cities in Europe, at least… Madrid traffic is only slightly less dangerous than Taipei’s, mainly because of the lack of motorcycles. Weirdest thing that happened to me in Europe was in Madrid, when a military jeep hit the car we were in and spun it 90º. They just exited the rundabout and kept driving along “La Castellana” avenue. The four of us inside the vehicle were like: “WTF just happened?” Lucky us, we were not driving fast, and the only injured was the company’s car.

Just for your info…Hualien is worse than Taipei. Constant stream of people jaywalking and car/bikes running red lights. Now have the electric motorbikes adding to the mayhem.

By the way, in Switzerland I once had to hide behind a tree near an pedestrian crosswalk as the cars would spot me and stop. I was not standing at the roadside but 5 meters away. Here in Taiwan you could park yourself in the middle of the road and you would get a stream of fast moving vehicles swerving around you.

It is very hard to try to work out why these behaviours exist. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that you can live to a ripe old age in Taiwan if you keep your wits about you when driving or walking.

I suggest you try to remember that it is NOT OK for YOU to be an arsehole pedestrian/driver, and to also remember that most other people are arseholes for whom it is fine to drive and walk like they have just beamed down from Planet Blaargh. I think this standard holds true the whole world over.

Be careful out there. The world is full of arseholes. You may have more familiar understanding of some of those arseholes, but don’t let your guard slip when in foreign climes. Arseholes abound.

Chinese culture is selfish to the core. That is why Taiwanese drive selfishly. Unless you can change the core selfishness of the culture the driving won’t improve. I will state that Taiwanese drive better than PRC Chinese. So maybe there is some hope.

Yep my colleague recently dropped over for a trip in China and remarked Taiwan was significantly better.
China…what a shithole,

[quote=“Lros”]I agree with you 100%

its absolutely shocking. I had my foot nearly crushed by the full weight of a car coming up from behind me. behind, the guy just didnt give a fuck. and i have seen worse happen to others. girls laying motionless in the street ect.

but there are a couple of futile factors at work here, number 1. they don’t think they are driving badly, unsafe or selfishly. even less regard to polluting. my gf has started to come around to the thought that the driving in taiwan is dangerously bad, after about a year straight of nagging from me.

number 2. as was revealed in another thread, the people in power could not give less of a shit about improving things. its a non issue for them. so basically nothing is going to improve driving wise if things stay as they currently are.[/quote]

People in power do the exact same thing … they are a-fu and a-wang with a better position and more money and can have things go away … unless it’s been in the media …

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 4

[quote=“Flakman”]Just for your info…Hualian is worse than Taipei. Constant stream of people jaywalking and car/bikes running red lights. Now have the electric motorbikes adding to the mayhem.

By the way, in Switzerland I once had to hide behind a tree near an pedestrian crosswalk as the cars would spot me and stop. I was not standing at the roadside but 5 meters away. Here in Taiwan you could park yourself in the middle of the road and you would get a stream of fast moving vehicles swerving around you.[/quote]

When it’s obvious that a pedestrian wants to cross cars need to stop or get fined if caught … in Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands … and many others

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 4

It’s the Taiwan all or nothing thing. You give people an inch here and they take a mile.

You just ban right and left turns through pedestrian traffic and enforce red light breaking with heavy penalties.

Problem solved, there’s obviously no political willpower to do this though, you see rich people in Taiwan don’t walk anywhere they drive everywhere. I’m including the politicians in this.

Hence the good roads and almost non existent sidewalks around the country.

I was hit buy a blue truck which was turning left when I was walking across the street in the opposite direction (we both had green lights). Wasn’t hurt, he just pushed me a meter or so to my right. Then adrenalin kicked in and I kicked his front side really hard leaving a dent, then I hit his driver’s window with my flat hand, and then I decided to beat it before he could make up his mind about what to do next (grab his baseball bat, examine my footprint on the truck and sue me etc.). Not much people around at that time, otherwise I am sure it would have been on Youtube a few days later, the clip titled “Foreigner attacks lorry driver”.

Since early 2013 the police in New Taipei and Taipei enforce pedestrians’ right of way and you can often spot officers with cameras on a tripod taping an intersection. I have also noticed that pedestrians in New Taipei/Taipei are much more confident since early this year. In case someone hits me while I cross the road on a green light I would sue them for all they have (and win).

I employ a 3-second rule with crossing roads as a pedestrian or as a cyclist. It’s actually a tip that I picked up on Forumosa.

I see too many idiots run red lights at full speed, I ain’t gonna be first off the bat and then t-boned by a lorry.

Whenever someone is a dick in traffic I ring my bell like crazy (bad ass I know!) and sound abuse at them in English. Then they look at me like I’M the crazy one.

I almost got hit by a jack-ass scooterer today, today is a “I hate Taiwan” day.

Well, that’s the point I guess. The people who make the rules never took a driving test to get their license, same as the rest of the population, so they don’t know how to drive any better than the average gravel-truck guy. So they think everything must be hunky-dory.

I kicked a taxi who knocked us off our scooter (stationary in a queue) as he was doing his I’m-a-taxi-I-belong-at-the-front slalom. Long story short, called the police and ended up giving him money because my gf had sullied his paintwork with her blood. This was before I understood that the purpose of the police is not to uphold the law, but to make everything go away with the minimum of work. Your approach appears to be the more sensible one, sadly.

Any lasting damage? I had another taxi park on my foot once. I was pounding on his car, for - I dunno, felt like about half an hour - bellowing at him to GTF off my foot. He just stared at me like I was mental. Eventually he got the idea and rolled back a bit. I suppose I should have done the Taiwanese thing and insisted he carry me to the hospital, but I was in a hurry and just limped off. It felt fine after a couple of days.

It seems to me (from the responses in this thread) 50% of Taiwan’s traffic problems would go away if they sorted out the taxi drivers and blue trucks first.

Really? I was under the impression that over the last couple of years, enforcement has pretty much all but been abandoned in favor of “directing” traffic at stop lights. I can’t remember the last time I saw a motorist getting ticketed for anything, even when flouting the law under a cop’s nose.

A few years ago, Taipei City was full-on nazi about towing cars parked on red lines and there were whole convoys of tow trucks out. Now i see maybe one day if I’m lucky.

It really does depend on neighborhood. In Xinyi, near my office, drivers more or less stop though it’s likely due to private security guards out directing traffic. You go 3k away and red lights mean “stop after 3-5 seconds” and pedestrians are to be driven around. You head out beyond that and red lights are suggestions and pedestrians invisible. This leads me to think that the only thing that would get behavior to change is to actually put a traffic cop in each intersection and enforce the current law.

However, this may not work. I pass through a particularly busy intersection near my home that has a police officer standing in the middle of it throughout morning rush hour. Drivers drive around him. Several months ago, a pair of police set up a camera, videotaping (or taking still pictures - I am not sure) the crosswalk of the intersection for over a week. Behavior changed 0%. I actually waved at the camera while being unable to cross due to traffic a few mornings.

In local neighborhoods, ironic as is may seem, jaywalking is your safest bet because you can predict where traffic will actually be coming from. However, in intersections, you have it coming from all directions, including at high speeds from your blind spot from behind.

The other best practice is to wait 3-5 seconds before crossing green lights because of drivers speeding to get through the red in the other direction.

[quote=“keroliver”]
This is not only in Taiwan. It’s everywhere in big cities.[/quote]

Sorry, but this is a Taiwan apologist statement, and it’s just not true at that. This kind of behaviour is not found “everywhere.” Taiwan may not have the worst driving habits in the world, but I’d wager that it’s in the top ten. The kinds of moronic driving maneuvers commonly seen here are very rare in many places. There are many possible reasons for this. Some people posit that mass car ownership in Chinese society is a relatively recent phenomenon and traffic safety hasn’t yet sunk into the collective consciousness. Others blame the pathetic (lack of) driver education here. Still others put it on such things as the lack of consistent enforcement, poor road design and “me first” attitudes. Perhaps it’s some combination of them all? All the same, for a place with Taiwan’s relatively high level of economic development to have such carnage and chaos on the roads is nothing short of a national embarrassment. And, no, it is not found “everywhere in big cities.”