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How Many Chinese Does it Take to Cross the Street?

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Pedestrians cross the road past heavily congested traffic in the town center in Guangzhou in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong on Sept. 27, 2010. (Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)

Green or red, the color of the light doesn’t matter much. To cross the road in China, all you need is a group of people large enough to block the traffic.

A Chinese netizen under the alias “This is definitely interesting” documented the phenomena, to great comedic effect, coupled with a photograph.

Chinese pedestrians, including seniors pushing baby carriages and fruit vendors on tricycles, crossed a street clearly marked for vehicles while ignoring the crosswalk area.

The post went viral and was forwarded around 100,000 times, according to a site hosted by Chinese search company Baidu. Netizens commented that jaywalking is illegal, but that following the law and not jaywalking is altogether too difficult.

“I feel like an alien,” read one comment. “Everyone’s crossing the street, but I am always stupidly waiting for the green light.”

“If you’re just standing there while everyone else crosses the street, you’ll get cold stares,” said another.

Netizens pointed out that one reason for the widespread problem of jaywalking is a flawed traffic system. Although some intersections have pedestrian traffic signals, they do nothing to stop the flow of cars driving through the crosswalk when the light clearly signals for pedestrians to go. Thus, it seems equally dangerous to cross at a red light and at a green light, they said.

Some even argued that it is actually safer to cross at a red light, since one can easily see cars approaching from afar; on the other hand, those who carefully cross at a green light have little warning of the approach of an unyielding right or left-turning vehicle, making obeying the rules riskier.

Chinese sociologist Zhou Kai is quoted in Baidu’s write-up of the incident that the problem of jaywalking highlights the deterioration of ethical behavior in China.

“People realize that there are no penalties for jaywalking, so they let their selfishness take over. The issue of jaywalking is being over-interpreted. Although running the red light is indeed unlawful, the main problem lies with judicial regulations,” Zhou said.

Jinghua Times Special Commentator Li Liyan agreed that jaywalking reflects poor social conduct.

“Offenders must be punished by law, and equal treatment implemented in order to establish the credibility of regulations,” Li said.

Read the original Chinese article.

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