Rise Up and Resist the Motor Scooters!

I noticed these posters near my home a while back:



They’re propaganda from the Changning District police department, telling people not to tolerate 10 types of illegal behavior. But the first 7 of the 10 items in the list relate specifically to 机动车 (motorized scooters), including illegal parking, blocking lanes of traffic, reckless driving, etc. All are extremely common on the streets of Shanghai.

These 机动车 are often blamed for bad accidents, and the drivers of motor scooters can be seen to flagrantly ignore traffic lights and other traffic rules all over Shanghai. The drivers frequently do not even have legal plates. Many in Shanghai (especially drivers of cars, but also pedestrians) have been hoping for a police crackdown for quite a while, but normally very little is done. There are rumors that Shanghai may eventually ban them entirely. I sure wouldn’t mind.

But what’s with the fists in the graphics above? Is this some kind of subtle suggestion that violence is the answer? It definitely feels odd. (Although the graphic of the fist punching through the wall sums up pretty well how the drivers of these motor scooters can make other residents of Shanghai feel.)

Here’s one that seems a little less extreme (and more in keeping with the usual propaganda style):


Here’s the text of the 10 illegal behaviors (same on all 3 posters) if you’d like to study it:

  1. 机动车乱停车
  2. 机动车乱占道
  3. 机动车乱变道
  4. 机动车乱鸣号
  5. 机动车涉牌违法
  6. 机动车逆向行驶
  7. 机动车路口违法行为
  8. 非机动车乱骑行
  9. 行人乱穿马路
  10. 非法运客

Note: This article originally mistranslated 机动车 as “electric scooter,” when “motorized vehicle” (normally referring to a scooter, not an automobile) is the correct meaning. “Electric scooter” would be 电动车 or 电瓶车 (both normally referring to scooters, not electric cars). Thank you to reader E.T. for pointing out this mistake!


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. I heard that there was a ban on all scooters that still drive with gasoline (To be enforced since July 2016 or so). However the gas-stations are still working and nobody is really enforcing the ban so most people are still using their old gasoline powered scooters.

  2. What? I’m pretty sure 机动车 refers to all motor vehicles. Perhaps you are confusing it with 电动车?

    Furthermore, many of these admonitions seem more likely to apply to cars, particularly the 乱 parking and passenger transport, the latter of which would be infeasible on an electrical scooter given the limited battery.

  3. Yes, resist electric scooters. Because poor people shouldn’t be able to own their own transportation. Especially if it pisses off Shanghai’s wealthier residents. Comfort the comfortable, afflict the afflicted.

    • There are buses and subways too. These types of vehicles are allowed in the countryside. Win-win.

    • Being poor gives no one the right to barrel down the sidewalk at top speed, blaring your horn for all the pedestrians to get out of your way, wantonly disregarding all rules of the road and common sense regarding safety. The electric bike epedemic is rampant all over China and something seriously needs to be done to enforce their safe and legal use. There is no reason why automobiles and pedestrians should be expected to stop at red lights and drive on the right side of the road/cross at crosswalks, while e-bikes are allowed to just do whatever they want.

  4. If it gets any worse, the men and women in police uniforms might have to begin doing something.

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