Road challenges in China
Riding in China is a whole other world, and requires constant focus and attention not to be wiped out by the other crazies on the road. There are many different types of drivers and vehicles, each with their own peculiar attributes and behaviours.
Trucks Prevalence: 9/10 Danger: 2/10
Most Chinese truck drivers are real professionals, they are respectful on the road, give you space and often even a wave. There are literally thousands of these guys driving semi-trailers on the road and you pass them constantly. Occasionally you come across one who appears to want to kill you by forcing you into the gutter, but most are really very kind. The biggest danger from trucks is the slippery goo that comes from the water that they use to cool their brakes, a mixture of brake dust, water, brake fluid and bearing grease that gets laid down on the road behind trucks and is very slippery.
The other danger trucks pose, is stopping below the drivers window at traffic lights. You may be accidentally hit by a warm gob of spit as the driver hocks out the window. Nasty.
He never meant it, but you are in the wrong place if you don’t want a spit shower.
VW Santanas Prevalence: 2/10 Danger: 9/10
These guys are deadly. Which is why the only photo I have of one, is when it was safely stuck in traffic. The drivers of black VW Sanatas are absolute maniacs, all of them. The older the model of Santana, the worse they are. They all move at about 140kmh, on any road, will push everyone else off the road and seriously want to kill you. Stay away from them.
White Landcruiser Prados Prevalence: 1/10 Danger: 10/10
These guys love to drive on the wrong side of the road. Blind corners, freeways, anywhere. You’ll always find them on the wrong side, speeding towards you, and they won’t move back to the other side of the road for anyone. Get out of their way or go under. I had a very close call with one of these guys who came around a corner on the wrong side of the road. Frightening.
Taxis Prevalence in cities: 10/10 Danger: 8/10
80% of taxi drivers cannot see motorcycles. This is a proven fact. The remaining 20% that do see you, will push through traffic and even push you, just so they can get close enough to read the engine number from the side of the crankcase while you are at the traffic lights. Obviously he is just curious, but his driving style means he will knock you over just because he wants to get a closer picture of you to show his mates. Position yourself so he can’t get to you.
E-Bikes Prevalence in cities: 9/10 Danger: 7/10
Electric bikes can be found all over China, silently ploughing through traffic and pedestrians without concern for continuity of life. They won’t hesitate to ride up on the footpath at 60kmh and push pedestrians out of the way with their horn. The worst ones are the old bikes, they have usually been supped up with bigger batteries and move amazingly fast, 60km/h+, often they have no working brakes, so the last thing you hear before he hits you, is the sound of the pilot trying to stop the e-bike using his thongs (Fred Flintstone style) Dangerous. Occasionally piled high with kids and shopping too.
Three wheeled ‘truk’ Prevalence: 4/10 Danger: 7/10
These trucks missing a wheel are usually dangerously overloaded with some heavy objects, such as rocks, bricks, tiles. They are almost always piloted by an old man with Coke-bottle thick glasses, and are notorious for pulling out blindly from a side road and onto the freeway without even looking for other traffic. As you approach at 100km/h you wonder, “has he seen me?” Maybe?? Probably not. And if he has, he doesn’t care anyway. His machine is so heavily loaded it can’t stop and if it did he couldn’t get it moving again, so you better be prepared to avoid the pile of bricks now in your path.