Friday, April 10, 2015

Driving in Sarajevo

Where to start with driving in Sarajevo? 

First off, it’s terrible! Like other big cities, Sarajevo has seen an explosion of cars and the tiny roads are just not equipped to handle that much influx. But if that wasn’t a problem it is also the arcane motor laws: no right turn on red, you can turn right on green at the same time those with the left turn signal from the opposite side are coming. Actually there are few left turn signals, but not many. 

Yellow means go, as does green. Green flashing means the light is going to turn to red. At some intersections the green light goes for both directions and that means you can also take a left or a right, mind the oncoming traffic (um what?). Add to that pedestrians who walk everywhere and at any time on the street, completely disregarding if they have the walk sign or not and you have a recipe for a mess.

Sarajevo is a small town, it really shouldn’t take one ages to get from one part of the city to another and yet it does because of all this plus, inordinate amount of traffic lights, none of which coordinate with the other. Also, inevitably I’ll end up with the slowest driver in front of me and a NASCAR racer behind me. Aye! Day to day I see many cases of road rage, a guy jumps out to cross the street just as the light turns green, car honks at him (rightfully as it is not the pedestrian’s turn) and the pedestrian gets pissed, throwing up arms, sometimes swearing or giving the finger.

The other day I was walking home, waiting at a light for the left turn cars to finish up. The one guy goes and the second car overtakes him to take the left (very typical over here), the first car guy gets peeved and there is a lot of honking and screaming, second car guy equally upset and decides to tailgate first car and then rev up and pass him on this one-way tiny street. At that point they were too far down the street for me to see what else happened but the weirdest part of the whole thing – these were clearly elderly men, had to be in their 60’s or above.

More and more here in Sarajevo you hear about road rage cases involving guns (since the Bosnian war guns are very easy to get here). It is scary. When I can, I prefer walking, just a lot less chances for an accident or incident, no?


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