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Thoughts reverent and irreverent from the road in Turkey

A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO PEDESTRIAN LIFE IN TURKEY

by in bloggingaboutturkey
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Much is written about the trials and tribulations of being a driver in Turkey but actually it’s not a whole lot better if you’re a pedestrian. As someone who still walks a lot despite the hazards here’s my take on the pitfalls of pedestrian life.

1. The first thing to be aware of is that car owners take priority at all times. No matter where you are. No matter what the signs may say. Occasionally a more than usually courteous individual may pause and wave you in front of them. Be careful. The driver behind will probably interpret that pause as an excuse to roar up on the inside and overtake.

2. Never trust a zebra crossing. These inviting black-and-white stripes painted on the road are a booby-trap in the making. Even in Britain it has long been recognised that the average car driver’s mentality is such that it isn’t wise to rely on them to give way to pedestrians on the crossing, no matter what the Highway Code may say. Instead most have now been replaced with pelican crossings equipped with red lights that force drivers to stop. Turkey being a few years behind on this matter a few hopeful zebras are putting in an appearance. Use them at your peril.

3. Ditto traffic lights with pedestrian filters. Of course if you’ve got to cross the road they’re definitely the safest places to do so. It’s just that Turkey has this horrible habit of creating halfway crossing lights that lead you, all unsuspecting, to a traffic island in the middle of the road, then abandon you to run the gauntlet of the traffic on the other side. Grrr!

4. Often your poor pedestrian doesn’t even qualify for the option of a halfway crossing. Bursa, for example, boasts a ferocious one-way system through the town centre that can only be crossed via underpasses. Fine if you’re 18 and unencumbered with baggage, not so wonderful if you’re 75 with a shopping bag full of groceries.

5. Then there’s that great cost-cutting wheeze which consists of foregoing bridges and underpasses altogether. The snazzy Black Sea Highway, for example, roars along the Karadeniz cutting pedestrians off from the sea for miles at a time unless they want to vault the barriers and then run like billyo across half-a-dozen lanes of traffic.

6. Spend any time walking in Turkey and chances are you’ll end up falling flat on your face. There are just so many obstacles, you see. A pipe jutting up. A paving-stone tipped on its side. A looped railing inserted alongside the road. And that’s before you clash with the hole left uncovered, the hickledy-piggledy steps inserted seemingly at random and the kerbstones seemingly designed for a race of giants. Most people soon learn to avoid the pavements and join the traffic in the roads. We’re lucky if we have a choice anyway since nine out of 10 car owners regard the sidewalks as convenient extensions of the car parks.

7. Rewind to those broken paving stones, pain enough in good weather, a disaster in the rain. Step on one of them and you’ll risk a soaking. And that’s before you encounter the mini-lakes of filthy, litter-filled water that quickly overwhelm the gutters, thereby guaranteeing that you’ll be drenched from top to toe by every passing lorry.

8. Assuming that you’ve managed to cross the road while also managing to stay upright, does that mean that all is well for you, the innocent pedestrian? No it certainly doesn’t because a favourite trick of motorists is to hurl their litter out through the windows to collect by the roadside thereby rendering our pleasure in walking along it so much less enjoyable.

9. Come winter, comes a new terror. Most local authorities quickly marshall snowploughs to clear the all-important roads. But the pavements? Why bother when they’re only used by pesky pedestrians who foolishly walk on the snow thus compacting it and making it three times as dangerous? Grit? Salt? Expenses far too far.

10. Last but not least there are the maddening taxi drivers. You’ll know the ones. The ones who slow to a crawl thereby cancelling out your chance to nip across the road in a gap in the traffic. The ones who flash and beep to attract your attention even when you’re heading in the opposite direction. Of course they’re only pointing out the obvious – which is that no one but a lunatic walks in Turkey.

Tagged in: walking in Turkey

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