28 April 2008
Traffic in Cairo is pretty intense. By intense, I mean Cairo is the second biggest city in the world, but the streets seem to be extra small—at least for how many cars they try to fit in each one! And the drivers never follow the street signs, and the lines on the road are more to differentiate between the sidewalk and the road than to actually show cars a “lane” they should drive in.
For example, in the US, you can find two and three lane roads, with many more lanes in bigger cities. People usually stay within their lane, and they signal when they want to change (sometimes).
In Cairo, on a three lane road I have seen up to six or seven “lanes” of cars that could fit across (the cars are smaller here so they can fit more in). The lanes don’t stay consistent, either, with five cars in one section, and in front of them six lanes of cars. Most, if not all cars here have scratches along the sides from scraping other cars as they are driving along, and the bumpers are a mess.
Needless to say, crossing the streets as a pedestrian is quite an exciting experience. To cross, you have to start across the road, dodging cars, and continually stop as other cars pass by you until you get to the other side. Last year when I was here our tour guide told us that we would probably be unable to get across and that we should just follow Egyptians. (I didn’t even try it.)
Last night, however, as my friends and I were taking advantage of “slumming” opportunities in downtown Cairo, I led the way in crossing the road. I realized I had succeeded when I saw an Egyptian following us! (True, she was an old woman that had a hard time walking, but the fact remains that instead of following Egyptians, an Egyptian followed me!)