4/24/2010

Taipei Drivers Not Yielding to Pedestrians

I was just mentioning to a colleague that I have been honked at what seems like an unusually high amount of times this week while trying to use Taipei's crosswalks. Yesterday, when I pointed to indicate that I was in fact using the crosswalk (and might actually have the right-of-way), the honking driver turned red and got really pissed. I could see him bouncing up and down in his car. Then I was almost hit by a DHL van as well, which came tearing around the corner at Dunhua and Civic Boulevard.

Anyway, I just googled "lack of driver respect for pedestrians in Taipei" or something like that and found an article from the Singapore Strait Timeshttp://meltwaternews.com/prerobot/sph.asp?pub=ST&sphurl=www.straitstimes.com//Asia/China/Story/STIStory_516245.html.  

I think the mayor of Taipei, Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), might have been shamed into doing something by Singapore's paper, because there are 25 cops now assigned to handing out fines at intersections to non-yielding drivers. The fines range from NT$1200 to NT$3600: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2010/04/14/2003470557. And 115 fines were indeed handed out in week two of April, 2010. It also didn't help the city's image when a retired diplomat from Guatemala was hit by cab and had his arm broken a few weeks back. 

Just as an aside, I'll mention an anecdote from about a month ago. A car, I think it was a BMW, pulled up at a red light at Dunhua and Chungshiao, completely blocking off the crosswalk. To get around it, my friends and I had to walk out into the intersection. The traffic cop saw this and scolded the driver. He said: "You're really making Taiwan look bad to 'foreigners'."

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the States, the pedestrian has right of way at any cross section. In Japan, the pedestrian has to raise hand to signal the oncoming car to claim his or her right of way. In Taiwan, it sounds like that the riches who can afford to have the expensive automobiles have all the right of way at any cross sections; no wonder the automobile is also called as Urban Tiger市虎. ChoSan

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Taiwan, it sounds like that the riches who can afford to have the expensive automobiles have all the right of way at any cross sections."

According to the law, they do not. And their actions are creating a very bad impression here. Visitors might even think Taiwanese, based on what is going on in Taiwan's streets, don't care about other people. I'm not happy that visitors could be coming away with this idea when visiting my country.

Terry J. Benzie said...

That is an interesting article contrasting the general politeness with what is now routine behavior on the road.

A week or so ago my family was out near Taipei Station and police on scooters saw that we were trying to cross the road and drove over actually blocking part of the intersection for us and other pedestrians to get across.

This morning, I did notice that the traffic cop assigned to the busy intersection near our apartment in the mornings did something other than wave at scooters as they drove by so perhaps there is hope.

Kaminoge said...

Out here in the Other Taiwan (aka That Which is Not Taipei), the rules of the road are very clear. When crossing the street on foot, buses, cars, motorcycles, scooters, taxis, and trucks have the Right of Way, and pedestrians are clearly at the bottom of the food chain. It isn't even an issue in these here parts.

In Japan, I've never had to raise my hand to claim the right of way. As soon as I would reach a crosswalk, cars would invariably slow down and come to a stop, and wait for me to cross the street (a fact that never failed to amaze my Taiwanese wife!).

Stripe said...

Yeah, it pays to take care in Taiwan. Drivers should make sure they:

1. Slow down before running a red light.
2. Sound some kind of warning before making pedestrians jump out of their way.
3. Pay their fines when they have done insisting their right of way remains.

:)

Anonymous said...

I agree that there are some interesting and revealing social dynamics on display at crosswalks.

Why do people think the city went to the expense of painting those stripes in that particular place?? For looks?

I have noticed two things:

If you make eye contact with drivers who have to adjust their speed in order to not hit you, they behave even more agressively, and come even closer to hitting you.

Also, I have found that holding a big metal-tipped umbrella out in front of you as you walk across the crosswalk seems to give you some extra protection, for some reason.

One thing that (on the surface) looks like a good idea, but (on second thought) could also be seen as pretty misleading is the signs I have noticed in the last couple of years in certain parts of larger cities (perhaps where they expect foreigners or tourists to be) which say in ENGLISH,

"Pedestrians have the right of way"

Any idea of how likely it is that a driver who hits someone on a crosswalk will actually end up having to pay a fine? I'm guessing that is probably a big factor determining how careful people actually drive.

--scott

Anonymous said...

If you want to use our roads, drivers, have some respect. We're all paying the same for them, and for pedestrians that don't even own a car, your disrespectful attitude is hard side to swallow.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"If you want to use our roads, drivers, have some respect. We're all paying the same for them, and for pedestrians that don't even own a car, your disrespectful attitude is hard side to swallow."

That's an incredibly strange comment. What does it mean? Anyone?