Here's How To Keep The English Names on Shanghai's Street Signs!

Post on 

Monday, August 29, 2016 

under Community by Enjoy Team

US Election? Who cares! This is the most important thing you’ll vote for this year, and you’ve only got until tomorrow to do it! (okay, they say till the end of the month, but we figure a bit of urgency couldn't hurt)


The backstory

The Shanghai Road Administration Bureau released a survey early in August which, despite strenuous denials, seemed to suggest that there’s a real possibility that Shanghai’s road signs might be a lot less foreigner-friendly in the New Year.

Buried in the middle of the questionnaire is a question that essentially translates to “Would you like it if we got rid of the English part on the signs and instead made the Chinese characters bigger?”

The reason you only heard about it last week (probably) is that the whole thing is Chinese, which, perhaps in itself, is an ominous sign of things to come.


We translated the survey so you can give your opinion

Whether or not you fall into the “Great, make the foreigners finally start learning to read” or the “How will tourists get anywhere” camp is your business. But we thought it’d be a good idea to help you guys have your say anyway. The survey’s anonymous, so you can take part no matter what.

Here’s our guide to the survey. The language’s pretty complicated, but the questions are fairly straight-forward, so we simplified it a bit. Feel free to follow along as you answer the questions. It’ll take a few minutes out of your day, and it might just make a difference. Either way, what could it hurt to make your voice heard?


Survey here:

Note: Number 6 is the really important one but it seems like you have to finish all of them to submit your answers!


The Survey Itself


1. How many years have you been driving?

A. Less than 5 years

B. 5-15 years

C. 15-25 years

D. More than 25 years


2. How often do you drive a car

A. Every day

B. Several times per week

C. Several times per month

D. Rarely drive at all


3. What do you do if you’re going to drive to an unfamiliar area?

A. Look up the route and the road signs beforehand

B. Won’t look up the route, will use GPS in the car or on my phone

C. Ask other people

D. other _________________

4. When you’re driving on the elevated road, do you feel it’s difficult to distinguish your current location and direction?

A. Don’t think so (easy to distinguish)

B. Once in a while I lose my way and take the wrong exit from the road

C. Often lose my way and take the wrong exit from the road


5. Here are two examples showing layouts for road signs.


Table 1: Current road and crossing road name without changes (the way it is right now)



1 – which road is in front; 2 – roads to the left and right,

3 – the front crossing road; 4 – geographical direction;

5 – street numbers of the front crossing road


Table 2: The version adds the name of the road you are currently driving on, while keeping the rest of the information.



What is your opinion?

A. I prefer table 1

B. I prefer table 2

C. I have another suggestions____


6. [THE IMPORTANT ONE] Currently, the name of the streets on the road signs are medium-sized, with an additional English translation, like in picture 1. Most road name have English and Pinyin signs. The actual usage is not high,  what if we instead removed the English and change the size of the road names, increasing the Chinese characters size, to make it easier to see, like in picture 2:



Which one do you prefer:

A. Important city landmarks, trade zones, international event locations, large connecting roads – all these place should keep English on the signs, while other signs have English removed;

B. Remove English from all of the signs

C. Keep English for all the signs

D. I have another suggestion ______


7. According to international law, on road signs, the closer street is above, further street is below, but Shanghai’s current signs have the positioning the other way around, the further street is above and the closer street is below. This is not the same as in the rest of the world.



Imagine, you’re at the intersection of Ruijin South Road (瑞金南路) and Zhaojiabang Road (肇嘉浜路), the closer street is Shaanxi South Road, the further street is Xujiahui Road. Which sign do you prefer?



A. Do not change, keep it as it is: further street is above (on the top), the closer street is below

B. Make a change: Closer street is above (on the top), further street is below.

C. I have another suggestion_____


8. On elevated roads, on the entrance to the ring road and main road position, there is a speedway sign. Except for the size of the characters, do you think it’s necessary to add geographical direction?


Case 1: Make the street name characters bigger, no direction



Case 2: Make the street name characters bigger, add direction



You’re choice:

A. I prefer case 1

B. I prefer case 2

C. Do not increase the size

D. I have another suggestion________


9. Is it necessary to add the sign of the street on the traffic light on the intersection?



A. Add the sign

B. No need to add the sign

C. I have another suggestion ______

10. Street signs contain the names of upcoming intersections, intersection street signs and three types of recognition signs. On the typical Shanghai road guidance sign, the name of upcoming street intersection and the name of intersection street are present, but recognition signs are missing. We suggest adding some recognition signs, like the highway number and distance.



A. Add the sign

B. Don’t add the sign

C. I have another suggestion ____

11. Direction is presented on the elevated road signs at turning points, in order to help the driver to recognize the street and take the right direction. We suggest adding geographical directions like East, South, West and North. Look at the examples and choose the one you prefer:



A. I prefer geographical direction #1

B. I prefer geographical direction #2

C. Keep the original sign

D. I have another solution


12. Should we add more directions on the streets signs of elevated roads detailing which roads connects to the main road and the upcoming street, such as for the Outer Ring Road (隧道) and Hongqiao ()?



A. I think we should add it

B. I have another suggestion_______


13. G1501 Shanghai speedway ring in the near future will  show the direction to Pudong Airport, Donghai Daqiao, Jinshanwei, Jiaxing, Anting, Baoshan District:



Wait until the North East Road will be opened to traffic, and show the directions for Pudong Airport, Donghai Daqiao, Jinshanwei, Jiaxing, Anting, Jiaohuan Suidao.



A. I agree

B. I have another suggestion_____


14. Let us know if you have any suggestions:


 Who says democracy doesn’t exist in China?