All about the escapades and thoughts of a girl who thinks WAY too much for her own good!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Park at your own risk
Much has been said about the horrors of driving in Rome. Upon first blush the criticism is understandable. Driving in Rome is a fast paced melee of buses, cars, and motorcycles. Traffic seems to come from all directions with no rhyme or reason as to who has the right of way. Taxis unexpectedly cross over traffic from the left lane to take a street on the right. Motorcycles pass buses and cars from all sides, and most of Rome does not have stop signs. It’s not that the drivers don't abide by them. Rome doesn’t have them.
Parking here seems similarly chaotic. Sidewalks are used as parking lots. Motorcycles are jammed into long rows or huge clusters where it seems impossible to even find your bike let alone have the room to walk up to it, throw your leg over it and move it out of the jumble.
Double parking for hours and hours and blocking entrances to buildings and sidewalks is the norm. Put simply, cars, motorcycles and trucks park wherever and however they can. Roman neighborhoods have no provisions for those with handicaps. It must be terribly inconvenient, but the fact is Rome is just not designed for those with disabilities.
But unlike in Washington, DC where you’re never really sure what the yahoo behind you is doing or how he or she will respond, driving here is actually very predictable. It’s predictably crazy. There is no such thing as “unexpectedly crossing over traffic” because anything is expected; therefore drivers are always prepared.
Romans are practical and alert drivers who use foresight and prediction to their advantage. After a little over a month in Rome, and hours and hours of walking, I have never seen a traffic accident; not a fender bender, an overturned bike or any twisted wreckage at all. I just hear a lot of honking; lots and lots AND LOTS of honking. Romans have no patience for those who hesitate in traffic and they certainly don’t have time for those who don’t know where they are going!
Again, parking is similarly practical. Compact cars will park horizontally if it makes more sense to do so and drivers think ahead. They don't take space because it’s available; they pull up as far as possible to make room for the next driver who may come.
Italians don't mandate “no parking” near a curb or near the end of the block just because it is easier to see the other car coming from road. They believe it is the driver’s responsibility to pay attention and use the right amount of caution. I like the common sense in this. Things are not over mandated here and parking tickets are, to this day, unseen to me.
Although I sometimes have to go around 4 cars or so to have enough room to gain entrance to a sidewalk, I don't mind. The anticipation of the next crazy parking job that will give me a chuckle is well worth it.