Beijing's jaywalkers to face fines
Beijing traffic chiefs have vowed to crack down on jaywalkers. From this week, people who do not wait for the "green man" signal to cross at intersections will receive on-the-spot fines of 10 yuan ($1.60).
The move was announced on Monday by Beijing Traffic Management Bureau, a department of the capital's public security bureau.
The action follows a cyberphrase — which roughly translates as "cross the road Chinese-style" — that gained popularity online in October and sparked heated debate.
People talked about widespread violation of traffic laws and raised concerns about pedestrians disregarding traffic lights.
China Central Television broadcast a series of reports on jaywalking in several cities, showing pedestrians running traffic lights for various reasons.
In Beijing's popular Nanluoguxiang alley on Tuesday, China Daily reporters saw 47 people run red lights within 10 minutes.
Yang Qing, a junior college student in the city, was one of them.
"I know it's bad, but I was in the middle of the street when the light turned red and I could not turn back," she said. "Besides, the cars were stuck in a jam, so there was no way of missing the chance to cross the road."
A 32-year-old Swedish man, working for a sunglasses company in Beijing, said: "I don't care about the traffic light, but I care about safety. In Sweden, we go against traffic lights as well but we go after making sure there are no cars coming.
"It's a good idea to fine jaywalkers. For 10 yuan, you can take the subway five times," he said, adding that he was concerned the new measure will put a strain on police manpower and workload.
The traffic management bureau said it will not only focus on punishment but also upgrade road safety facilities, such as arranging traffic lights more scientifically, and building overpasses.
In December, the bureau began focusing on traffic safety to stop pedestrians from running red lights.
"It will be a continuous action to improve road safety, making pedestrians follow the traffic laws," said Qi Qi, a bureau spokesman.
According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 62,387 people died in 210,812 road traffic accidents in 2011, with 237,421 injured.
Road traffic deaths top the list of deaths from non-natural causes in China, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Liu Lin, a lawyer at the Shuangli Law Firm in Beijing, said enforcing the law will have a positive effect.
"The law states that if pedestrians run traffic lights, they will face a 10 yuan fine. As the fine has been written into law, I can't see any reason to break the law," Liu said. But he added that he thought enforcement is "a little late".
Stricter regulation has not only been seen in Beijing, but elsewhere in the country in the past six months.
Modern Express reported that in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, pedestrians running traffic lights will face a 20 yuan fine.
Liu, from the law firm, said, "The fine is one aspect, but 10 yuan is not a big deal for most people. The violation could be recorded on a person's career record or character profile to deter people from breaking the law."