As soon as I learned how to survive in Tianjin traffic, which necessarily involves blatantly ignoring traffic laws, the traffic culture started changing. More than once during this second stint in China I’ve found myself the lone bike rider stopped in the middle of the intersection while the horde of cyclists obediently wait behind the stop line. That never would have happened in 2007. At first I wondered if it was just me, but after asking around local friends confirmed that, yes indeed, people are increasingly respecting traffic laws, and traffic laws are being more strictly and consistently enforced.
Then this morning I saw this banner near our neighbourhood when I went for my routine Friday morning Tianjin breakfast:
“Strengthening publicity & education regarding the legal system,
serving socio-economic development
Wanxing St. Judiciary Booth/Office Dec 4 Popularize & Publicize Knowledge of Laws Day”
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There’s a local campaign on to educate regular folks about the laws, to make them realize that, yes, laws do in fact matter; enforcement isn’t going to be totally arbitrary anymore (they may not be that explicit on the second point ;) ). So today there’s either a temporary booth set up or an office is open for people to inquire about various laws. Time will tell whether this is all just for show (as per usual) or whether this will make real changes to society (as the changing traffic culture would suggest).
Tangentially related stuff: