On the Beach

Monday, 17 October 2011

Helpful hints for Capetonian Road Users

I am generally a fan of the old adage : “When in Rome….”.

Except when it comes to driving in Cape Town, where I feel the locals could use a little help.

Below, I have a few tips and action points for pedestrians and drivers which, if implemented, I believe would mean that there would be fewer tourists and expats paralysed with fear, bewilderment and confusion at the wheel.


1.      Traffic lights and stop signs are not optional. Indulge them.
2.      Added to the above, some basic revision: Red means stop and green means go. For everyone.You're not special.
3.      Look at your steering wheel: either on the left or right of the steering wheel is something that looks like a stick. One of the functions is to indicate when you turn: indicators. Go crazy: use them. It might make you feel good to let people know in advance when you screech off the road. Oh, and try to indicate the way you are actually going to go.
4.      Taxi drivers: I am sure your car has more gears than first. Enrich your life and help me retain my hearing for longer- explore your gears.
5.      Taxi drivers again: doing a sudden stop in the middle of the road to talk to your taxi driver friend doesn't build up much goodwill with other road users (although I know this is hardly aspirational for you).

Drivers: On the motorway

1.      I get that undertaking is allowed, but 60 in the fast lane? Shift over.
2.      If you car was produced in the 70’s, was last serviced in the 80’s, is a variety colours welded together and carrying your entire family, your pets and furniture, chances are you should be reconsidering the wisdom of being on the motorway, never mind the fast lane.

1.      If there is a pavement, use it.
2.      If you choose to ignore the above, try not to walk 5 abreast.
3.      If you choose to ignore both 1 and 2 above, at least move aside for traffic.
4.      If you've ignored 1,2 and 3, I am probably rabid with rage, but can you speed up? Please?
5.      Pedestrian crossing: not a road decoration, they have a use. Crossing the road 5m either side and waving your fists at me as I don’t stop at your self-styled, invisible crossing is a not a valid reaction.
6.      At peak time traffic, if my car is trying to push out of a busy junction, chances are, if you look me in the eye and then crawl across the road in front of me like a snail, it’s not gonna make me happy. Don’t look so surprised.
7.      Pedestrian lights- they’re there for you!
8.      If you see a car coming down a road, stay where you are. Don’t walk out. Or if you must, try a walk rather than perform a languorous creep. If you’re feeling chipper, try for a light jog. The time to cross (cf pedestrian crossing and pedestrian lights) is you know, that time when you were standing in the road (because you obviously would not have been on the pavement) and no cars were coming.

Pedestrians: On the Motorway (yes, this is a necessary category.)

1.      Pedestrian bridges: use them unless you’re a thrill seeker.
2.      Pedestrian bridges: If you’re crossing a motorway 10 metres away from the bridge- please stop me and tell me why? Is it that you’d rather cross in the relative cool of the shadow of the bridge and die less hot? Are bridges for sissies?
3.      If there is no bridge or using them is against your religion try using gaps in traffic and GETTING A BLOODY MOVE ON!!
4.      Crossing with goats, donkeys and other stupid animals not renown for speed and with no self-preservation instincts is not an award winning activity. Although I admire your determination.

A few simple rules and we’d all just get on so much better. Not to mention my blood pressure would be so much lower.

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