Thursday, March 29, 2007
Right of Way?
One of the biggest adjustments to life here is the simple and frequent act of crossing the street. It doesn’t take long to understand that pedestrians never have the right of way. Crossing the street is a free frawl, everyone for him/her self! Sometimes I feel like I am in a game of frogger! You just have to go for it, crossing one lane at a time as it opens. Occasionally this leaves you stranded between two lanes, sucking in as a bus passes right behind your back and a taxi just before your toes. But this is necessary! If you are timid, you will never get across a busy circle or street!
There are some crosswalks and even some walk signals, but they are rarely observed and should never be trusted. In fact, I was became confused at a major intersection when cars were stopped at a light. I am already used to never having right of way and was not sure how to proceed.
I do however believe that the drivers are more aware and calculated while driving than in the US. Cars get closer to people than I am accustomed. But it is all normal here. Cars get closer to everything for that matter. Parking is done mainly on the sidewalks which means that during business hours most of the walking is ironically done in the streets! So, you have to be aware of the cars on the street, and aware of the cars in the process of parking on the sidewalk. Basically, there are no relaxing strolls in the city until you get into a park. A car may be approaching from any direction. Cars, taxies and busses will occasionally give a forewarning honk to let you know that you are in the way, on the street or the sidewalk.