Observations on being a pedestrian in Shanghai

1. Everyone is walking more slowly than you.

2. Any group of people walking together will automatically expand to fill the available space.

3. If the group is too small, or the space too wide, then they will use various tactics to fill the space such as:

3.1. Slowly, randomly, zig-zagging from one side of the path to the other, but always ending up just crossing your path as you’re about to pass them.

3.2. On wet days and (for women) hot sunny days, strategically opening an umbrella and holding it down low to their heads, blocking your forward vision and adding the risk of losing an eye or tearing an ear if you pass too close.

4. People will stop dead in their tracks for no obvious reason, usually when you’re right behind them.

5. The slightest distraction will cause instant crowd formation. Somebody falls off their bike, crowd. Somebody drops their shopping bag, crowd. Two people start arguing, mega crowd.

6. Say you finally manage to find an empty space and you stand still in the middle. Anyone crossing that empty space, no matter how large it is, will be unable to do so without bumping into you, brushing past you, or hitting you with their bag. Needless to say it’s when you are stationary that you are at most risk from passing umbrellas.

7. Bikes, e-bikes and motor-cycles


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