Crimean time

Traffic

Yes, we have traffic, and during the hours of noon, and after 4pm, Simferopol has traffic jams that any big city in the World would proud of, or possibly would enjoy having! Bumper to bumper, heel to toe, ears to nose, and at times, way too close for comfort!!! At this writing there are over 340,000 folks living in a very densly populated area of approximately 4 miles by 6 miles. The vast majority of the population live in Soviet style Hi-Rise Apartment Buildings of 5-12 stories tall, and there are perhaps only 5 or 6 main throughfares bringing and taking these folks to and from City Center. (City Center is the downtown area of Simferopol.)

It is exciting for me to watch, as the drivers race thru brief open areas of traffic, with the reckless (wreckless!) abandon of a banshee, and how courteously they behave towards their fellow drivers and eager pedestrians, rushing to get home, or to lunch. There are traffic lights, however there do not appear to be any posted speed limits. This is my kind of driving!!! Courteous, kind, and considerate, and drive like a bat out of Hell!!!

I am absolutely amazed wth the courtesy and attentiveness of the drivers. Everyone is naturally in a rush to get somewhere, however these drivers will actually allow you to change into their lanes with just a turn signal, or a wave of the hand. Try to make a left turn in America, in a mile long line of bumper to bumper traffic, and you may have to have your mail forwarded to your car. Take a left turn across three lanes of traffic, in this same situation in Simferopol, and it's no real problem. Why anyone would want to make a left turn across three lanes of traffic, at high noon in Simferopol, to go to a McDonalds will bewilder me for the next several days!!!

Within these mile-long traffic jams are a variety of sounds from a vast array of cars, busses, trucks, vans and even tractors honking their horns. The honking is not in anger, nor do I see any clenched jaws from the drivers, because the honking just seems to be a gentle reminder that someone up ahead is NOT moving forward at a normal pace expected to progress towards ones intended destination.

The pedestrian crosswalks located through the city are unique and different, and apparently if a driver does not stop for a pedestrain whenever they enter a "crosswalk" the offender will be beaten, chained, and immediately thrown into The Black Sea!!! Just the other day, not knowing the punishment for this offence, and not expecting such a startling reaction from a driver, I inadvertantly stepped into a "crosswalk" and a driver slammed on his brakes, screeched to a halt, and nearly caused a three car pileup!!! I may have to get a disguise, or at the very least buy another coat and hat, just in case these drivers happen to see me in a public place, and recognize me as the culprit.

Whoever designs the typical "Walk, Don't Walk" signs found at stop light intersections all over the World "must" have, at one time, been a professional "long distance walker" to be able to fully traverse the distance between the curbsides in the available time alloted for these adventures!!! Perhaps we have a wee bit of difference in our terminology and understanding of the word "Walk." I feel that I am "Walking," but perhaps I am not. Is my gait a "stroll", or a "saunter" rather than a "Walk???" Am I too leery of muddy, icy streets durng these cold Winter months!!! Perhaps the designer of these "Walk, Don't Walk" signs lives in Tahiti and he does not receive any snow and ice to walk upon.

I suppose that I could move to Tahiti and easily "Walk" thru Traffic Light Intersections within the designers alloted time frame, however it would be most difficult to sing Jingle Bells, and go dashing thru the snow, or perhaps the designer remembers the words of this song whenever he set the alloted 4.7 to 5.3 seconds for these "Walks!!!"

Joe K. Roberts

 
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