Traffic. In Beijing. A whole different world.
So, the basics. In California, and most of the United States of America, a pedestrian has the right of way. That means a car will stop and let the person walk across the street. Yes, especially in San Francisco, there are exceptions but it is the rule and the law.
Not so much in Beijing. I actually love the traffic in Beijing because it almost seems like a river with a school of fish trying to merge and swim through constant confusion. It is a bit like a dance or art.
That being said, here is a little bit of knowledge for the first time one attempts to cross a street: The cars making a right hand turn, on a red light, do not stop. The cars have the right of way and pedestrians have to look out for them and wait. Therefore, there can be a lot of people just standing in the last half to a third of the cross walk even though the sign says “walk.” For this reason, I’ m not wearing any headphones or using my cell while walking at this point. Once I get more used to it and am comfortable with this I probably will wear headphones but it is amazing how fast, and small, so many of these cars are, not to mention how many scooters and bikes there are, and how easy it is to miss them as they come flying around the corner.
Just like in life, walk slowly, take your time, enjoy where you are, breathe, and pay attention. Actually, that is just good advice on life in general.