Friday, December 9, 2016

Leaving a Concrete Mark in Shanghai

During a recent visit to Fuxing Island in Shanghai, a bike blocked my intended path.

bike blocking a large portion of the sidewalk along Gongqing Road in Shanghai

Similar obstructions are common on sidewalks in much of China, so I didn't spend much time thinking about it. I wouldn't even need to leave the sidewalk.

Although I was able to adjust my path without much problem, I suddenly had a sinking feeling. In two more steps I found myself on firmer ground and confirmed my hypothesis: I had walked in wet concrete.

footprints and bicycle tire mark in wet concrete

I have accidentally left similar marks in China on multiple occasions, such as my previous wet concrete incident earlier this year in Jieyang, Guangdong. So I am somewhat experienced in this area. My shoes were OK, and such is life.

Not long after my latest immersive experience, a woman approached on a path similar to my earlier one. Initially, she appeared to be confused as to why I so strongly encouraged her to stop, which she did just in time. But after looking for a few seconds at where I pointed, she smiled and walked around the patched area of the sidewalk. I soon headed onward myself after finishing taking a few photos of my latest contribution to China's concrete.

An hour later I passed by again and saw others had joined the collaborative project.

patch of drying concrete with even more footprints

The unmarked area of wet concrete fits a theme of more open construction spaces I have come across numerous times in Shanghai and many other cities in China, such as in Shangqiu and in Qingdao. But when I later looked at the photos I had taken, one caused me to wonder about a type of question I don't usually feel compelled to consider in these cases.

bike parked in a perfect location to guide people into walking on the wet concrete

Had the bike been deliberately placed in its location to increase the chance of people walking into the wet concrete? It was very well located in this regard, and a more out-of-the-way space in an area used by other bikes was open immediately in front of it. I don't doubt there are people who for one reason or another, perhaps even for art's sake, would do something like this. But it also seems plausible somebody parked the bike in its location without considering the potential impact, and perhaps the space was occupied before.

A question which I probably have a better chance of answering is whether the marks left by me and others will remain for a long period of time or, as when my footprint in the Jieyang concrete patch was removed, they will be short lived. I don't have plans to return to this location any time soon, if ever. So if any readers happen to be in the area someday, an update on the condition of this patched portion of sidewalk just south of Fuxing Island Park's western entrance would be most appreciated.

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