Everyday I go by MRT from Xindian to Taipei and then by bus to the office. The route is quite the same every day, so it seems quite boring. However, if you take a closer look, using public transportation in Taipei is highly interesting, because you can also learn something about the behavior of Taiwanese people.
I usually walk pretty fast and my legs are also quite long, thus I usually walk much faster than most of other pedestrians. I assume that you already experienced the following situation by yourself: You want or have to walk very fast (otherwise you come late to work or school), but you can’t, because pedestrians in front of you all walk pretty slow, and sometimes suddenly just stop (especially women approaching a vendor for shoes or bags ;)), or some people just stand in the middle of the pedestrian walk and chat, or five people urgently wanna walk side by side so that no one else can pass by….
I don’t seem to be very patient in things like this, or I’m really narrow-minded (what I already mentioned in a previous article), but things like this really drive me nuts!! However, the strange thing is still yet to come: When the MRT or a bus approaches, some Taiwanese people seem to grow wings!! What I mean is: In order to get a seat, some people walk faster than I do….seventy-year old grannies suddenly start to run…such as they just drank a big magic potion!! But what is this about?? The reason is so slight…why are they so afraid that no one offers them a seat? Furthermore, running at the MRT or bus station is pretty dangerous…why they just don’t keep it slow at this place…on the street they always do like this…..
Well, on the street, however, there is another problem. I already mentioned the one with the pedestrians. But there is also the „problem“ with the cars and the scooters. Why do I quote „problem“?? Because I think, the reason why traffic in Taipei is so chaotic is the recklessness of the drivers and ignorance of the police. Of course, I understand that everyone want to go home fast after getting off from work, but it is a matter of fact….many car drivers, scooter drivers, even pedestrians don’t obey traffic rules, don’t obey red traffic lights, no right of way, no crosswalk etc., in addition….what I already watched many times…policemen on the street* mostly don’t care about violations of the traffic rules. A way like this of course is very convenient for drivers….I also don’t want that Taiwan will develop into a police state, but being too relaxed seems also not to be too good for Taiwanese society….
Many people in Taiwan admire the orderliness in Germany, but they seem not to understand that for orderliness one also needs rules. For sure, many rules are quite strange….I still remember that a couple of years ago in Germany, I was driving with the car at 3 am. At a big intersection, the traffic light was showing red…there was absolutely no other car except for mine on the street, however, I waited a few minutes to get the green light….because what would have been the alternative? Just to cross the street? Not to care about red traffic lights? I don’t think that I’m that much ignorant….of course I have to admit that I also crossed streets under red traffic lights, but not habitually and definitely not in a way that cars had to stop because of me, what I see everyday at Minquan West Road… (…one of Taipei’s main streets).
I also understand that Taiwan is in a quite special situation, since space is very limited, but however I think that if every car driver, every scooter driver, and every pedestrian could obey the traffic rules just a little bit more, then all of us could go home much safer and more relaxed.
*I recently found out that there are real policemen as well as voluntary traffic policemen on the streets….well, I can’t blame the volunteers at this place, however, there are still quite many policemen that don’t care about traffic violations….