Saturday, August 22, 2009
The night a scooter collided with my knee
Aug. 14 -- A ban here on gas-engine scooters means all scooters are powered by electricity and therefore very quiet when people ride them.
After an afternoon of observing classes and then meeting with other teachers in the evening, I headed back to the hotel. I decided to stop first at a nearby shop to buy a bottle of water. Before crossing the street to the shop, I looked left and right and -- when I should have looked left again -- I stepped into the street.
Changsha traffic is not like any traffic in the United States. Even in Chicago, lanes are generally respected. In Changsha, scooters and cars and buses swerve around pedestrians and each other. The concept of right of way does not belong to pedestrians or cars or scooters; rather, everybody believes they have the right of way.
A few people around me shouted before I realized what had happened. Suddenly I was nearly on top of two men riding a scooter. And my right knee was throbbing.
I was still on my feet and touched my knee. No blood. I bent my leg. No broken bones. The men backed up their scooter to check on me.
“There’s no problem,” I said to them in Chinese, and they rode off.