Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pedestrians Beware

Spring has finally arrived in Sarajevo. The last scraps of snow have just recently melted and tiny yellow primroses have popped out – seemingly overnight -  in the yards and fields around here. 

It’s much easier to walk now that the sidewalks are free of snow and slush, but pedestrians are well advised to watch their step. The pavements here are uneven and full of hazards, from potholes to debris. Some of the sidewalks are brick-paved and it’s not unusual to come across missing bricks here and there. Sometimes the holes and potholes are filled in with loose gravel or asphalt. Where the holes are filled in, the fill is never level with the surface. There are places where the sidewalk has simply crumbled away in spots. Another hazard to pedestrians is that cars park on the sidewalks. You are frequently forced to walk in the street, and well advised to step back between the parked cars to allow drivers to get past; they don’t show much inclination to slow down just because the street is narrow, pedestrians are in the street and barely a foot or two from moving traffic. I’m careful to watch my step; I don’t want to learn about the Bosnian emergency medicine system.

Bosnian women – especially the younger women – are somehow able to navigate all these hazards on high heels. I don’t know how they do it. I’ve stumbled more than once in my sensible, flat shoes.

Pedestrians also have to watch out for cars when crossing the street. Even when you wait for the green pedestrian signal, you are foolish to think that the pedestrian has the right of way. Cars with the green light and making a turn in front of you will try to beat the pedestrians to the intersection. If you are in the intersection before the car, they will stop just a few feet away, then keep rolling slowly toward you, apparently their version of “playing chicken”. 

(additional photos of Sidewalk Hazards) at