The Shanghai Road Administration Bureau is asking its residents whether English should be removed from traffic signs.

The survey said: “Considering that most road and area names in English are pinyin – and that the effective use of space is not high – if we stop displaying Chinese and English at the same time, we can make the signs smaller. Or without changing the measurements of the signs, we can make the Chinese characters bigger.”

Survey removing english Shanghai road signs
Survey question asking about the removal of English. Photo: Survey screenshot.

It asked for feedback as to whether citizens would like to keep both, completely eradicate English, or keep English names only in important areas such as tourist hotspots and business districts.

If none of the options seem suitable, residents can also give their own opinion on the matter.

East Nanjing Road in Shanghai. Photo: Wikicommons.
East Nanjing Road in Shanghai. Photo: Wikicommons.

China Daily reported that expats were worried about the loss of road signs in English.

Radek Gebiz, from Germany, told the paper that there was no requirement for foreigners to know Chinese characters when they get a driver’s license. He added that he uses the signs to ensure drivers are going the right way when he takes a taxi.

The bureau said that the current form in pinyin was “not too useful.” It said that it would make a final decision on whether to remove English after assessing the survey results and consulting with traffic experts.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.