Safest Place To Walk? – On The Road

Xi’an city is quite well laid out and there are no lack of footpaths for one to walk on.  However, it seems that the locals are more comfortable walking on the road.  This could be due to the fact that some drivers seem to prefer to drive on the footpaths!

The proliferation of cars, bikes, buses and trucks mean that the roads in China are becoming increasingly busy.  However, the average pedestrian has no qualms about sharing the roads with the traffic.  Indeed, we were privy to people wheeling elderly parents in their wheelchairs against the stream of oncoming traffic.

Old men and women pushing cardboard laden pushcarts, bikes stacked with gas bottles and water, wheelchairs with elderly passengers aboard and young and old foot traffic are all commonplace on the streets of Xi’an.  And what’s more – the drivers of the fast moving (and not so orderly procession) of vehicles take this all in their stride.  The incessant beeping of horns reminds the foot traffic that they may become a hood ornament if they are not too careful and, for the most part, they seem to obey.

The streets are not a place for the fainthearted and visitors to Xi’an (and other Chinese cities) should opt for the footpaths (if they are not taken up with cars and bikes) rather than walking on the roads.  The locals seem to be rather accustomed to the practice but tourists probably don’t have the street smarts to compete with the traffic.  Besides, the “gawking” that tourists tend to do leads to even less awareness.

Travel tip – keep your ears open because the friendly reminder from an approaching car may be the only thing that keeps you alive in these parts!

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