Time out with T.O. - Backseat driving, Shanghai style

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations | November 27, 2013

Image with caption: The streets of Shanghai.

The streets of Shanghai.

SHANGHAI -- The Great Wall of China is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It's pretty cool, but I think I'm even more stunned watching drivers navigate the streets of Shanghai.

Trust me, Shanghai is no place to take driver's training.

In a city of 23 million people, traffic is incredible. When you get off the freeways, the roads just aren't capable of keeping up with the volume of people.

It's similar to New York City with cab drivers laying on their horns constantly -- but Shanghai is NYC on steroids.

Shanghai is as flat as a pancake, so it's an optimal place for biking. There are probably more bikes on the roads than cars.

The bikes are everywhere. From rusted bikes that you need to pedal to sporty, high speed motor bikes and everything in between.

Men. Women. Young. Old. It doesn't make a difference. Biking is the way to go. Oftentimes, you will see mom, dad and infant on the same bike.

So, throw this collection of bikers into the mix of vehicles and you have something to behold.

China is an innovative country. I've noticed that most of the stop lights in Shanghai have only two colors - red and green. They've done away with yellow.

Maybe this is a trend that will be coming soon to the U.S. Stay tuned.

Near as I can determine the vehicle drivers of Shanghai are at war with the bike riders.

The UNMC delegation is always transported in vans. Trust me, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has nothing on the guys driving these vans.

On this particular day, Paul Paulman, M.D., professor, family medicine, and I are marveling as our van driver artfully weaves around cars and bikes. He never changes expression. He always changes lanes.

He's determined to get around a cab in front of him. He decides to pass on the left turn only lane then skillfully eases back into his original traffic lane as he blows through the intersection and around the cab. No sweat.

Dr. Paulman is impressed. "Man, this dude is a driving deity!"

You took the words right out of my mouth, Paul.

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