I have spent some time in Beijing, as well as other cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou. Among them, Beijing is the city where I have stayed the longest, so its traffic conditions have left the deepest impression on me.
When talking about transportation, it is impossible to avoid discussing public transportation. Thanks to the large number of migrants, Beijing's subway system is like a beautiful landscape during the morning and evening rush hours. If you haven't experienced the crowded Line 4 during rush hour, you can't truly understand the excitement of Beijing's subway. It's like coming to Beijing but not trying the traditional fermented bean juice in the old hutongs. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to experience both of these things in the past few years, so I have no regrets.
To be honest, in terms of experience and service, Beijing's public transportation is better than that of most other large cities. After all, it is the capital, and its reputation must be protected. However, due to the large population, there are still some areas that cannot be fully taken care of.
However, what I want to talk about this time is not public transportation, but the private cars running around on the roads.
Just a few days ago, I almost got hit while crossing a zebra crossing at a traffic light. When I saw the green light, I quickly walked through—I knew that the traffic light at the intersection below my company changes very quickly. At that moment, a car turning right from the opposite side was also trying to speed through, and we almost collided.
As a pedestrian crossing a zebra crossing, I have to be extremely cautious. If this happened in my hometown, I would have pointed at the driver and scolded him for his reckless driving. But considering that this is the great capital, under the feet of the emperor, I have to maintain my own image. So I just waved my hand to signal the driver who almost hit me to let me pass first.
This is not an isolated incident, and such rude driving behavior is not uncommon at intersections in Beijing every day. As for who will be hit one day, it is hard to say.
This made me think. In a place like the capital, where talented people gather, the level of education is undoubtedly higher than in other places. So why are they so lacking in traffic etiquette? This gap is like walking into a top-notch class expecting everyone to behave properly during class, but then a piece of chalk flies over, and the whole classroom becomes chaotic.
I think this should be attributed to the drivers. After all, traffic rules are the same nationwide, so how can they forget about driving etiquette here? In my small county town, whenever a pedestrian is seen crossing the road, whether there is a traffic light or not, drivers must slow down at least five meters in advance. This is basic common sense, and there are many similar rules. If it is a matter of low quality, that should not be the main problem, because anyone who can afford a car in Beijing should have a decent education and quality. So could it be the result of the environment? If everyone else is doing it, then other drivers might follow suit. But this speculation is far-fetched.
Recently, I have come up with another guess. This behavior is inspired by the prevalence of "keyboard warriors" on the internet. The prevalence of these "keyboard warriors" is not only due to the vastness of the internet, but also because of the anonymity it provides, which makes them feel free from moral constraints. Similarly, in Beijing, with so many vehicles on the road, if I drive a little rudely as long as I don't violate traffic rules, what impact will it have? At most, pedestrians will look down on me for a moment, and then they will forget about me. It won't cause any harm to me.
In small county towns, or even smaller villages, besides being bound by rules, the most important thing is the condemnation of morality. The people coming and going are almost the same, so if you behave inappropriately, you will be remembered and even criticized. Then, as you go around, the criticism might return to your own circle. This kind of harm is much more troublesome than a fine of two hundred yuan for a traffic violation.
Of course, there could be other reasons, such as rushing to work during the commute, or not feeling a sense of belonging to the city, so not caring about the negative impact of breaking traffic etiquette...
Beyond rules, moral constraints are also needed. As a city grows larger and larger, these moral constraints gradually weaken. The connections between people become very weak, or even nonexistent, so there is no moral restraint.