Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Walk on the Wild Side

Beijing is the kind of city where you'll see elderly folks being pushed in wheelchairs right in the middle of the street because the sidewalk is nonexistent, bumpy (and by bumpy I mean gaping holes), or filled with objects impossible to get around. Better to chance the stray car or scooter running down Grandma than to have to deal with so-called sidewalks that make walking an adventure all its own.

In the last couple of days, I've randomly shot scenes in my neighborhood so that people who don't live here can get a small sense of how taking an evening stroll can be as thrilling as a carnival ride. This isn't even touching on the topic of actually crossing the street, which is an altogether different sort of adventure. Today we'll start with Beijing's sidewalks.
Example one. This is one of the widest-open sidewalks I've seen, complete with the all-important yellow stripe intended to guide blind people. Wait, there's a car in the middle of the sidewalk? You haven't seen anything yet.
We've stepped up the game here. So what if there's a car parked in the middle of the stripe for blind people? It's still possible to squeeze past through the bike, the tree box, and the car. Easy.

Yes, this is a car parked right across the crosswalk. Added challenge are those black and yellow poles jutting up from the sidewalk. I think they may be to prevent people from parking there. I'm just guessing.
Slightly more of a challenge here. The car covers both the yellow stripe all the way to the tree box. Pity the poor trees that have to grow out of concrete mesh. But it's easier to step on that than on the mud inside a tree box.

Ahead you have a phone booth, a newspaper kiosk, and behind that a subway station. Pedestrians who have a destination on the other side of these things must weave around them.
What I love about this arrangement is the way the stripe for the blind person kind of juts around the telephone pole in the middle of the sidewalk. 
Now things are getting interesting. Do you squeeze between the parked cars, or do you step way out into the narrow street and hope you don't get run over? If you're pushing a stroller or a wheelchair, good luck.
You win, car.
And you win too, bike delivery guy. And this is why I'm a jaywalker.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps that's why there's little to no sidewalk in Hong Kong. Or they're all taken up by the millions of side-walkers, leaving you little choice but to go subterranean.

    It's pretty hopeless, it seems.