on the road

Weaving between cars,
Defying death (or something),
Ridin' on the bus!

In keeping with the really strong tendencies towards using public transit here in Deutschland, there are some special things in effect related to the way it has to work. For instance, there are special bus lanes so that buses can dodge all that nasty early morning traffic. On occasion I am inclined to snicker at all the poor fools in their (immobile) fuel-efficient cars as we whisk by.

Another interesting component of the transit system here is the drivers. Surely they are psychologically... off. No sane person would be willing to navigate a metal box holding 60 people through a street 7 metres wide with a car on each side at 40km/h. One woman in particular (she drives the 8:23 bus from Dieburg to Darmstadt) seems mentally askew in other ways, as well.

Since the streets are so narrow, there are some other interesting complications, mainly related to parking. Yes, people can park on both sides of the street, leaving just enough space for one car to squeeze through between them. Vastly more common, however, are parkings half-on-half-off the sidewalks. I'm reasonably certain that it's legislated in certain areas that you must park like this. Time to go off-roading in your Mercedes!

There doesn't seem to be a lot of reverence for pedestrian space, for that matter: I've been walking through a park when suddenly I'm forced to make way for a vehicle driving along what I could have sworn was a sidewalk. It's in a park, for crying out loud.

The strange thing is that pedestrians do seem to have a lot of rights. If the walk light is green or there is any ambiguity about whose turn it is, drivers will let the pedestrian go 98% of the time. Maybe that's just because I've been spending time mostly in big cities and college towns, but it's nice, nonetheless.


Maria said...

Agreed -- you should have seen the parking in Moscow & St Petersburg...and the driving was INSANE. We took a van-bus around and our driver was incredibly good but incredibly scary to ride with. Dad and I took a taxi as soon as we got into SPb and we honestly thought we were going to die. (No lane markers, anyone? Oh, 5 cars vying for spots that maybe 2 cars can fit into? Sounds great!) I thought LA driving was crazy; SPb was at least 4x worse. But oh good public transportation, how wonderful you make life! Glad to hear you're riding the bus and all. Mmm, Germany :)

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