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Pedestrian Courtesy in Singapore

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WideEyed
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Pedestrian Courtesy in Singapore

Postby WideEyed » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 2:42 am

I've lived here 6 weeks now and really like it. My one and only complaint is that I am stunned by the lack of pedestrian courtesy. Why is it this way? I understand that people walk slow because it's hot and that they have the bad habit of shuffling/dragging their feet because they often wear flipflops. But why do people stop at the end of an escalator when the know there are others behind them? Why am I forced to step off the sidewalk into the street when passing an oncoming group who won't share the sidewalk? Why do people stop and congregate at a tight bottleneck? Why do people stop, change direction without looking first, and run right into me? Why do people not step to the side on the escalator or conveyors and not let me pass? Why won't anyone walk up or down on an escalator or conveyor? Why do people cut in front of the queue when they clearly see that there is a queue? Why do people not let me off the train or elevator before barging on? Why do slow walkers drift from side to side and not let me pass? Why do people seem to have a complete lack of awareness of those around them? Is it self centeredness? Is it because there are so many cultures here? Is it just every man for himself? I've noticed several times that people will apologize when they realize they have been inconsiderate, but it's the lack of awareness, self centeredness, and zombie-like momentum that has me questioning the place. Please don't take this as a rant. Singapore is great, but six weeks here and I've experienced all of these things. I've lived all over the world, and really love Singapore, but I have never experienced a place where everyone's head seems to be inside a bubble. What gives?

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Postby Mi Amigo » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 8:41 am

Welcome to Singapore :lol: . There are many great things about living here for sure, and IMO the positives far outweigh the negatives. But you've nicely summed up one of the more frustrating things for many people who move here. "Inside a bubble" is a good way of putting it; FWIW my take on this that there's not (normally) any kind of deliberate intent to annoy others, but rather a self-absorption in one's own world and complete disinterest in others nearby.

There have been (and will no doubt continue to be) many 'courtesy' campaigns by the government - the intention is laudable, but I get the feeling that people just tune them out. Having said that, I have detected a slight improvement in recent times with people allowing others off the train first. Clearly from your observations there's still a long way to go, and maybe it's just that I've become less sensitive to the issue rather than a general improvement. I hope not.

The cultural aspect of this is tied up with Kiasu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiasu) - understanding that (not that you have to agree with it) is helpful if you want to have a happy time here.
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Re: Pedestrian Courtesy in Singapore

Postby zzm9980 » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 9:08 am

WideEyed wrote:I've lived here 6 weeks now and really like it. My one and only complaint is that I am stunned by the lack of pedestrian courtesy. Why is it this way? I understand that people walk slow because it's hot and that they have the bad habit of shuffling/dragging their feet because they often wear flipflops. But why do people stop at the end of an escalator when the know there are others behind them? Why am I forced to step off the sidewalk into the street when passing an oncoming group who won't share the sidewalk? Why do people stop and congregate at a tight bottleneck? Why do people stop, change direction without looking first, and run right into me? Why do people not step to the side on the escalator or conveyors and not let me pass? Why won't anyone walk up or down on an escalator or conveyor? Why do people cut in front of the queue when they clearly see that there is a queue? Why do people not let me off the train or elevator before barging on? Why do slow walkers drift from side to side and not let me pass? Why do people seem to have a complete lack of awareness of those around them? Is it self centeredness? Is it because there are so many cultures here? Is it just every man for himself? I've noticed several times that people will apologize when they realize they have been inconsiderate, but it's the lack of awareness, self centeredness, and zombie-like momentum that has me questioning the place. Please don't take this as a rant. Singapore is great, but six weeks here and I've experienced all of these things. I've lived all over the world, and really love Singapore, but I have never experienced a place where everyone's head seems to be inside a bubble. What gives?


Ha. Yeah, Welcome to Singapore indeed. :D

I almost had a girl ride her bicycle head-on into my not-moving car yesterday. She was slowly and widely going back and forth, in the oncoming lane, with headphones on, staring down at her iphone. Luckily she heard me lay on the horn.

And drivers do all the shit you describe too. There are a row of 5-6 people turning into a parking lot (on Upper East Coast Rd by the Kiliney&Starbucks for those that know) . This lot easily can handle 100+ cars, and it had maybe 10 cars in it. So in other words, TONS OF PARKING. Of course, the 15 spots closest to the entrance had most of the few cars there. The first driver (I was second) decides to STOP almost immediately after clearing the sidewalk, and trying to back into the ONLY tight spot in the lot , because it happens to be closest (by oh maybe 3 meters from the next closest) to the entrance. Now theres cars behind me blocking traffic in both directions while she tries this. And saying she doesn't know HOW to park is being very generous... Suffice to say, Chicago-Driver woke up inside me. I layed down the horn and swung around her as close as I could and with as much speed to let her know I was angry. I think that dazzled her a bit :D

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Postby Mi Amigo » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 9:20 am

This is one of the reasons (economics being the other) why I don't drive in Singapore. If I had a car I'd have to have it fitted with dispensers on the dashboard for blood pressure pills, Prozac, etc. Not driving here has had a positive effect on my health, no question.

The best (well, worst) car park story I heard was from a Singaporean friend who told me about the time he was looking for a space in a very crowded multi-storey car park. He saw a person get into a car and then start making visible preparations to leave. Then when the driver of this car saw that my friend was waiting to take 'his' spot, he switched off his engine and pretended to take a little nap. That way, he had 'won' and was somehow ahead of the other guy in his own mind. Go figure... :shock:
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Postby BigSis » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 9:46 am

I often feel as though people in Singapore must be descended from people who once lived in a small village somewhere and they've never really got it out of their system, because for a city with over 5 million in it, they all seem to act like there's nobody else around - walking blindly into people, stopping when they know there must be people right behind them..............and what's with the swerving? When you walk behind someone and try to pass them, 9 times out of 10 they'll swerve over directly in front of you as you move to pass.

It's a bit like living in a city with bunch of permanently 'tipsy' people who can't walk, drive or cycle in a straight line.

ha ha - but for all of that, I still like living here :)

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Postby Mi Amigo » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 10:07 am

There's a scene in one of the Star Trek films where some of the Enterprise crew find themselves on another ship in the fleet that has been taken over by the Borg. All the crew from that ship have been assimilated and are wandering about like zombies. One of the Enterprise crew says to the others something along the lines of "Just walk round them, don't make eye contact, and they'll leave you alone."

I'd love to find a clip of that scene on YouTube because it soooo reminds me of a visit to Vivo City on a Saturday afternoon :twisted:.
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Postby sensei_ » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 10:09 am

Mi Amigo wrote:...Then when the driver of this car saw that my friend was waiting to take 'his' spot, he switched off his engine and pretended to take a little nap. That way, he had 'won' and was somehow ahead of the other guy in his own mind. Go figure... :shock:


wtf?! talk about a small heart.

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Postby nakatago » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 10:43 am

BigSis wrote:I often feel as though people in Singapore must be descended from people who once lived in a small village somewhere and they've never really got it out of their system



THIS.

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Postby aster » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 11:19 am

Mi Amigo wrote:The best (well, worst) car park story I heard was from a Singaporean friend who told me about the time he was looking for a space in a very crowded multi-storey car park. He saw a person get into a car and then start making visible preparations to leave. Then when the driver of this car saw that my friend was waiting to take 'his' spot, he switched off his engine and pretended to take a little nap. That way, he had 'won' and was somehow ahead of the other guy in his own mind. Go figure... :shock:


I see this at food courts a lot. People have finished eating, and they notice someone coming in their direction thinking that they're about to get up. Suddenly that table becomes soooo much more precious to them and they pretend like they're not finished yet. So the other people walk away, and as soon as they do the group gets up to leave... :)

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Postby zzm9980 » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 11:51 am

aster wrote:
Mi Amigo wrote:The best (well, worst) car park story I heard was from a Singaporean friend who told me about the time he was looking for a space in a very crowded multi-storey car park. He saw a person get into a car and then start making visible preparations to leave. Then when the driver of this car saw that my friend was waiting to take 'his' spot, he switched off his engine and pretended to take a little nap. That way, he had 'won' and was somehow ahead of the other guy in his own mind. Go figure... :shock:


I see this at food courts a lot. People have finished eating, and they notice someone coming in their direction thinking that they're about to get up. Suddenly that table becomes soooo much more precious to them and they pretend like they're not finished yet. So the other people walk away, and as soon as they do the group gets up to leave... :)


Yes, I love this, because as the straight-forwarder Westerner, I'll call them on their Kiasu-BS and ask if I can have the table since it looks like they're about to leave. Kiasu doesn't account for direct "confrontations", so they quickly smile and say sure, and give me the table. Probably to run off and make a hate post about Ang Moh one Asia 1 forums :P

This morning I approached a ah peng kid sitting alone at a square table for four in the local coffee shop. Roti Prata in hand, I point at the seat opposite him and ask if I can sit there. He mumbles something and points to the seat across from him (next to where I wanted to sit) and said someone was going to sit there. I think this was an awkward deflection on his part to get me to go away. I instead point to the seat I wanted again and say "Ok, I sit here, can?" and just proceed to sit down. Kid looks concerns/stunned, but Kopi Uncle who saw the whole exchange smiled and took my order right away, I think smirking at the kid.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 12:08 pm

Mi Amigo wrote:This is one of the reasons (economics being the other) why I don't drive in Singapore. If I had a car I'd have to have it fitted with dispensers on the dashboard for blood pressure pills, Prozac, etc. Not driving here has had a positive effect on my health, no question.


These are exactly the reasons why I sold my 3rd car here way back in 1991 and haven't owned one since. I did end up with HBP. Unfortunately there were a lot of other reasons why I had HBP but selling the car made the rest of the family feel a bit more comfortable as I was bordering on road rage and they were afraid I'd snap. I have the usage of a car at the moment (belongs to a friend currently on a three year contract in Indo) and even now I rarely drive it during the week to work (usually only if I have to go to his condo to pick up his mail) and just use in on the weekends. I'm much happier with the buses & the MRT. And other drivers are much safer from Road Rage. :?

Spatial Awareness? What's that? Singaporeans don't have a clue.

Singaporeans, in general, do not know how to drive here, they only aim the car.

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Postby Mi Amigo » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 12:11 pm

Mi Amigo wrote:There's a scene in one of the Star Trek films where some of the Enterprise crew find themselves on another ship in the fleet that has been taken over by the Borg. All the crew from that ship have been assimilated and are wandering about like zombies. One of the Enterprise crew says to the others something along the lines of "Just walk round them, don't make eye contact, and they'll leave you alone."

I'd love to find a clip of that scene on YouTube because it soooo reminds me of a visit to Vivo City on a Saturday afternoon :twisted:.


Couldn't find that scene but if you look at this clip from about one minute in, you'll get the general idea...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95vFptSvbKw
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Re: Pedestrian Courtesy in Singapore

Postby x9200 » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 1:09 pm

WideEyed wrote:I've lived here 6 weeks

... and you are already complaining. I am afraid you will have very hard time in Singapore.

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Re: Pedestrian Courtesy in Singapore

Postby Mi Amigo » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 1:46 pm

x9200 wrote:
WideEyed wrote:I've lived here 6 weeks

... and you are already complaining. I am afraid you will have very hard time in Singapore.

Well six weeks is a reasonable amount of time to form an initial impression of the place. And this is something that many expats do find irritating, as others have shown. I think the main point I'd make is that you either don't let it get to you (and just laugh about it, as I generally do) or, as you say, you will have a hard time and won't enjoy your stay.
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Postby x9200 » Sun, 18 Mar 2012 2:20 pm

Most people I know had their honeymoon period from 0.5 to 1.5y before their level of frustration got to the level of open complains .


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