Beijing's media observed on the streets that the lack of urgency when pedestrians crossed streets and roads was a major problem in road crossing etiquette. Experts also pointed out that Chinese take longer to cross streets than people overseas.
According to reports of Beijing Evening News, the paper and Beijing TV Station worked together to videotape pedestrians for four hours at two Beijing intersections and found that pedestrians basically paid no attention to the existence of traffic signals and showed not the slightest sense of urgency when crossing streets. Two friends who ran into each other stopped in the middle of the road to greet each other and talk animatedly for half a minute.
According to expert analysis, the phenomena of pedestrians' "watch cars but not traffic lights" are quite common in China. "The red or green signals of traffic lights are set according to vehicle flow, not pedestrian flow. Too long a red light tests the patience of most pedestrians. Survey shows that Chinese have a patience threshold of 120 seconds. Some will ignore danger and weave in between traffic even if it only makes a difference of two seconds," said Zhai Zhongmin, a senior engineer with Beijing's traffic control department. This also reflects that at present, certain traffic setups are not proper and make it difficult for pedestrians to cross streets in one green light.
Japanese pedestrians have the world's fastest speed of access at intersections. This has close relationship to their management concepts and educational systems. In the lifetime of a Chinese person, unless they learn to accept traffic rules while learning to drive, they lack this part of the education in their normal learning process." Experts believe getting to the root of this problem requires severe sanctions against jaywalkers, education and the elevation of the quality of the Chinese citizenry.
(China News Service June 6, 2006)