Giant on the move
Pounding the pavement
Posted at hundreds of intersections across the city, these men and women have the thankless task of trying to bring a bit more order to Beijing’s infamously chaotic streets.
Armed with only flags, whistles and their own zeal, they try with varying degrees of success to prevent particularly pedestrians and cyclists from flouting the rules. (Without any real authority, they have to leave cars to the cops.)
Some stick to a crisp blow of a whistle and wave of the flag, bringing cyclists to a halt at red lights, then waving them on as if for the start of a race when they turn back to green.
Others cajole, chatting up pedestrians on the virtues of waiting one’s turn or cracking jokes with regular passersby. And then there are the shouters, who take their jobs so seriously they jeer jaywalkers for their lack of civilised behaviour and the potential danger they’re creating.
In a way, they’re the ones who deserve a medal, breathing in the often noxious air day by day as they grapple head-on with the widespread disregard for traffic rules, trying to raise awareness with every wave of the flag, every whistle, every red light.
Picture by David Gray