Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ryan Has A Bad Experience In Shanghai:

So, I was setting off on a morning ride to meet a new Fixed
Gear Crew here in Shanghai. I had made it two blocks when
I was stopped at a light. I arrived to the intersection first so 
I stopped at the thick white line and track standed while 
waiting for the light. While waiting, about 2 dozen scooters 
and bikes passed me in line so they could wait ahead of me
in the middle of the crosswalk. So, the light turns green and
we all start to move and since I am faster than everyone I start
to wait for opportunities to pass on the left (because that what
you are supposed to do, right?). As I am passing a scooter on the 
left, the guy jerks left and hits the brakes. His handle bar mitten
catches my handle bar and we both eat it right their on Dalian Rd.
I tumbled right as to not fall into traffic and my bike slid left and 
the rear tire got run over by a bus. So, Adrenaline kicks in instantly
and I get to my feet in a single fluid movement. I check to see if the
guy is OK, he yelled something at me, then I picked my bike up and
set it up on the side walk. As soon as I turned around I was greeted
by a group (I don't think the word "mob" would be applicable) of 
roughly 40 Chinese people. Of said 40 Chinese people, zero english
ability (which would later become an advantage, but was terrifying
at the time). 

So, it is time I take a break in my story to explain what I like to call
"Chinese Street Justice". In the event of an accident, unlike in the 
States/Western world, police are not called, information/insurances
is not traded, no reports are file. The law to land is that anyone and
everyone that heard or saw the accident would essential assemble 
around the damage. It would then be determined who was "at fault".
Now I put at fault in quotation marks because actual fault has very 
little to do with the verdict. Rather, who every is assumed to have
the most money should be the one who pays the RMB amount that
is deemed sufficient by the group/mob. In the event that a taxi VW
Santana hits a Parked Mercedes, the Mercedes owner would be the 
one to pay as a measure to "save face" with the local public. So this
public "Judge/Jury/Executioner" style or justice might not be the 
most accurate or unbiased, but it is much quicker than the US Judicial

So, If you have not gathered from the last paragraph, this system put
me at a tremendous disadvantage. While the gentleman in my mind 
clearly at fault because he turned left and stopped with out warning,
signaling or reason, this would play little to no effect in what was 
about to happen. I was scared to no end. There were 40 people 
pointing at me and yelling in a language that I could not even begin
to understand. The "Plaintiff" kept pointing at at his knee which was
scraped and the side mirror which was cracked, then he would point
to his hand in an attempt to get me to understand that he wanted 
money. Other random members of the crowd would touch/prod 
my bike and estimate damages audibly, a few pointed to my head,
which I assume was because I was wearing my "Italia" cycling cap
(yes, under my helmet mom and dad). I am fairly certain nobody
in the crowd has seen the incident to accurately assign blame, they
just looked at my shiny new John Deere bike and his crappy old
electric scooter to determine who would be paying who. I had been
briefed on Chinese Street Justice earlier in my stay so I was keen
on how to approach the situation. I would not expose any money,
I was definitely not going to let them see my iPhone or my Camera
in the Chrome bag and try not to expose any sort of wealth. At first
I kept saying "ting pu dong" which means "I don't understand" in
Mandarin, however, when this did not seem to phase their relentless
use of the language I made clear to them was not understandable, I
simply started speaking a combination of English/Italian. I figured
they probably would really notice the difference between the two
and does America need any more people hating it? After playing 
ignorant and italian for 25 minutes I decided we were done here.
I picked up my bike and started to walk away, where the Plaintiff
whose knee was horribly damaged moments ago (sarcasm), jumped
at me and pulled my bike to the ground to ensure I did not leave.
However, 20 minutes after that, they gave up on trying to get money
out of me and I walked my bike home to disassemble the rear wheel.

A little road rash on my left elbow and left hand. My body seems to
protect my head and iPhone in the event of collision. The bike was
fine aside from the rear wheel, which is getting fixed at Speed Cats
for 60RMB ($9).

Adrenaline wore off 2 hours later. Scariest moment of my life.

Bar None.


  1. I am happy that you are safe.

  2. Wow, intense story. I am glad you are okay...and very impressed you didn't back down. I think I would have cried. haha however, I would love to see you act Italian! :-)