Thursday, February 21, 2013

Adjusting to a New Traffic Pattern

I think I mentioned several weeks ago that the road in front of my house was finally paved. In addition, several new intersections were completed and one old traffic light was adjusted to accommodate the new road and a pedestrian crosswalk. Unfortunately, I've(or at least the drivers - if you can call them that) had huge problems with the traffic not doing what its supposed to. It's bad enough that a red light doesn't actually mean stop to large percentage of the population. But, I think about 98% of the drivers haven't even noticed that there IS a new light there. I'm very aware that I, as a biker and/or pedestrian, don't have the right-of-way here in Turkey. And, I ALWAYS make eye-contact with drivers and make sure they are slowing down or stopped before I enter a crosswalk or cross a road.

Tonight was no exception. I waited patiently for the green crosswalk man on the walk signal. He finally appeared but I still waited and sure enough a school bus driver was barreling through the red light like a bat out of hell. I even waved my arms and pointed at the red light to show him his error. Without even a tap of the break he waved back (was he saying hello?!) and continued at break-neck speed to deliver his little treasures home safely. After a few more seconds the intersection was finally clear as far as I could see in both directions. Still having a green cross walk man beckoning me, I cautiously entered the intersection. About half-way across, I saw two cars coming at full speed with no intention of slowing down. I started yelling the most unbecoming profanities that I'd ever spit out. (Son of God, that's a flippn' red light, what the fudge are you doing?) The man screeched to a halt, while I continued my rant in English. The traffic on the other side of the road was stopped (as they should have been because they, too, had a red) and by now had rolled down their windows to enjoy the show. It's not every day you see a 50 plus year old woman sporting a neon yellow reflector jacket and biking pants, walking across a road and shouting in a funny language. Come to think of it, I've never ever heard a Turkish woman shout or raise her voice.

Well, I think my shouting made an impression. Only time will tell if it was the impression I intended. (You idiots...look for red lights and stop when you see them) My wish is that they have a nightmares of an American witch on a broom---opps, bicycle----every time they cross that intersection or run a red light.

The thing is...if I could write in Turkish, my concerns about this intersection are worthy of a letter to the city traffic engineer. I'm not sure if the lights and crosswalks are synchronized. For example,  maybe the crosswalk gets a green while the drivers still have a green. Or maybe there just wasn't enough warning about the traffic change so the drivers really are not used to the new light. In any event, this new intersection is not working.

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