IMPORTANT: Please post comments for this article at the new CYCLELICIOUS 2.0 version of this page.
I have seen motorists in China use any available paved (or unpaved) surface to get ahead of other traffic. Based on what I have heard, the problem is due lack of enformancment of traffic laws.
I saw a taxi driver in Shanghai drive up onto a wide sidewalk, forcing pedestrians out of the way, so that he could get around traffic caused by construction. Trees were even planted between the road and the sidewalk, but that didn't seem to deter him one bit from using it as an extension of the road.
Call me racist, but I believe it's not due to a lack of enforcement so much as Chinese culture. Go into any Chinese supermarket in Europe or North America and you will see the analogous phenomenon of Chinese shoppers using every method, no matter how aggressive and rude, to make their way through crowded aisles. For all their empty talk of Confucian values the Chinese have an extraordinary lack of public spirit.
I am of Chinese ethnicity myself and this is one of the characteristics of Chinese culture that I dislike most.
I also find it really abhorrent the way the identity of the driver was hunted down by bloodythirsty netizens and their justification for shaming the driver -- "because he was smearing the country's image and the face of Beijing". And, naturally the driver only apologised to save his own face as well, saying that "the incident had hurt him and his family greatly".