Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Road Travel Report

My friend sent me the following paper issued by the American organization ASIRT (Association for Safe International Road Travel): 

http://www.wpi.edu/Images/CMS/GPP/South_Africa.pdf

It’s an interesting read, especially now that I’ve driven around Joburg, Cape Town, and the Garden Route.  I think my favourite sentence is “South Africa’s roads have the least amount of potholes of all African countries” – quite a low standard to measure from!

Even though the paper contains a lot of information, to be honest there is only one thing I wish I’d known before moving here:

“If someone pulls over to allow passing, thank him/her by flicking hazard lights.”

When my friend and I were driving around CT and the Garden Route, we wondered why people kept flicking their hazard lights at us.  Were they unhappy with us?  But we’d pulled over for them.  Was it a warning?  Finally we figured it must be a thank you.  We loved the custom and declared “Let’s bring this back to Canada!”

I’m grateful that I didn’t know “41% of road fatalities involve pedestrians.”  I like walking.  If it’s a 20 minute walk or 5 minute drive, I’ll often choose to walk instead – even if the sidewalks are small if they exist at all.

Luckily, however, my coworker gave me some fabulous advice when I first moved here:

“Always look four ways when you cross the street.  Not only up and down the roads, but also the side streets.  You never know when a car will come hurtling out.  You have to look after yourself in this city.  If you get hit by a bus, we’ll be sad but we’ll also ask “How did Beth get hit by a bus?  It’s so big!  How did she not see it?”

I quickly learned that pedestrians are on the bottom rung of the road priority ladder.

But let’s end on a positive note.  I especially liked that the ASIRT included 5 roads in the “Some Good Roads” section.  It’s always good to include something constructive!

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