Sunday, February 15, 2009

Transporte a lo porteño

We have been walking lots the last few days and so have had ample time to observe and participate in bus-car-pedestrian-bike (yikes) scene in Buenos Aires. A few observations:
  • The most prominant threat is feeling like you are going to be hooked by right-turning cars when crossing with the light. Consequently, I feel like I got to bring my A-game even if I am in a crosswalk with a green light.
  • Ironically, turning right on red here is no different than cavalierly running straight through a red light, so it doesn´t seem to be done. Hence it is often less cruxy to cross against the light, when I know my enemy. Sure, cross traffic will murder me if it can, but I can see that coming.
  • The bicyclists that attempt to exist on the roads frighten me to death. I constantly think I´m about to witness a tragedy. They ride (probably out of necessity) on the busiest avenues. Think Aurora, but with 12 lanes rather than 6. They ride on the left and traffic closes on them 30 to 40 mph faster than they are riding. On the smaller streets, some have no compuction against squeezing within inches of cars that are temporarily stopped, only to have the line of vehicles start again and pass them all the faster and closer out of spite.
  • The above observations are probably due to different cultural expectations of personal space. Even when walking on the street, it´s common for people to pass each other at a distance that would perceived as threatening in the US. So if your personal bubble isn´t so big, it´s not so threatening make yourself intimate with speeding traffic constantly. This only holds if you proceed with the currently effective, but hardly tested assumption that drivers actually would prefer not to murder anyone, so proximity doesn´t immediately indicate threat.

1 comment:

  1. Andrew, I am relieved that you and Erin are not bicycling or diving in Buenos Aires. Although, it appears that even being a pedestrian has it hazards. I guess that you will be leaving the hazards of the big city fairly soon.