Now showing on Nairobi roads

Wednesday January 6 2010

By SAMANTHA SPOONER

Another blog that involves cars… but this is the reason this blog is being written – it is where we are spending a huge proportion of our time these days. A blog on ‘stuck in traffic’ is nothing new but the situation has become so absurd that something needs to be written, if for nothing but my sanity. There are certain observations that become apparent when you frequent this frustrating mode of transport that, depending on the mood of the day, can make you laugh or want to cry:

1. The Aloof Stare - It is incredible how you can be in your car in a queue, trying to behave yourself and not break any rules, when another driver will try to cut you off or squeeze into your vehicle's ‘personal’ space… totally shameless! When you try to catch the person’s eye, to give him your new and upgraded death stare level five, he pretends to be preoccupied and completely unaware. As if he is the only person on the road and not actually about to scratch the paint off your car.

2. The Third Lane - It is incredible how a two way road can suddenly develop a third lane for the direction of personal choice. If the road isn’t large enough to create a third lane then of course the sensible thing to do is to drive up on the sidewalk. What is surprising is that many motorists don’t realise, or maybe they do but don’t care, that the third lane is what eventually perpetuates the traffic for everyone else.

3. Swinging Round the Roundabout - The roundabout is a problem area – it is understandable that having to propel yourself into a whizzing maze of vehicles can be a frightening experience, but it’s even worse when you realise that nobody actually uses lanes. Changing lanes and overtaking as you’re going round has actually become very normal.

4. The Bigger Bully - The bigger you are, the more you can push and… well you still don’t really get anywhere. The big bullies of the road are the four wheel drives, lorries and buses that can make you watch in despair as streams of cars now move in front of you whilst they try to move their big lump just into the corner of your car when you decide… hey, just go… I can’t afford another dent.

5. The Slow Rider - You have to feel bad for the cyclists who risk their lives cycling down our roads for lack of a cycling path… but sometimes you can’t help but get the feeling that perhaps a level of driving school should be attended when they put motorists' lives at risk as they cut you off or zoom past a road exit just as you’re turning in!

6. The Confused Cop - Some cops direct traffic like Michael Jackson… fancy moves and aggressive pouts making up for the fact that they don’t actually seem to understand how traffic is meant to flow (noticed how jams can come up so fast when an officer is helping!) or how fast a car can go... my car is old but even so I’m met with the glare and vigorous hand shaking of many an angry cop that doesn’t seem to understand why my car isn’t going 0-60km/h in one second.

7. Lastly (and I’m dreading the repercussions of this comment)… The Stop-Start-Hesitate-Run Pedestrian - Crossing a road is not a fun experience and you’re never really sure where to do it, but sometimes a bit of thought is needed… it’s incredible how often someone will try to cross the road when the light has just turned green for the motorist or at the crux of the busiest junction in town. And the pace is not always nice.

A situation is developing where if you can’t beat them… join them! And it is so hard to fight that temptation! Especially when you know you can get away with it.