Countries where it is near impossible to cross the road

Here is my totally unofficial list of countries where it is near impossible for a westerner to cross the road:

  • India: What is the secret to navigating this chaos? Tell me!
  • Vietnam: You drove dangerously close to me there!
  • Nigeria: We were walking together. You are on the other side of the road. I am not. What now?
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Hussaini Azri
April 10, 2022 8:57 am

Crossing the road. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The more I visit other countries, the more I notice small differences to the way people cross the road. When I traveled to Jakarta, Indonesia I quickly learnt the way it’s done here. Even if cars and bikes are coming your way, cross the road and raise your hand slightly toward the oncoming vehicle. They should slow down and let you pass. I took a tour when I visited Jakarta and there was a person from India on it as well. I asked him if there were similarities to what we were witnessing in Jakarta. He explained that there are similarities in that you cross the road when it’s busy, but with one major difference. Instead of raising your had slightly like they do in Indonesia, give the driver of the oncoming vehicle eye contact. You should be able to make it to the other side.

One time I took a motorbike taxi to go to a shopping mall. Traffic was quite bad and when we approached a traffic light, there were a lot of cars and motorbikes ahead of us. My driver drove onto the pavement and passed all the other vehicles that were waiting, while I held onto the motorbike as hard as I could. I rate myself quite adept at crossing the road in Asia. Moments like these make me think twice!

Cross Road in Asia.jpg
Taabia Ahmed
April 9, 2022 8:09 pm

I think Pakistan will be the same as India. Driving in Pakistan, especially Karachi is not for faint hearts. There’s a saying that whoever is able to drive in Karachi, he/she can easily drive all over the world 😉 So crossing the road is an art when driving is so chaotic.

Autorickshaws and bus coaches don’t follow rules. They’ll always try to go the wrong way to cut some time or save on fuel, stopping when the signal is red is a big No No, over speeding is actually their “normal speed” – totally reckless. Hence they’re accountable for numerous traffic accidents.

Then we have motorbikes! Ride all the way to roundabout to go to other side of the road? NO WAY! Let’s just pull up and drag your bike on the divider (or separators – can’t think of the exact word) and yay! You’re done. They don’t know anything about rules either. Always in some kind of ’emergency’. The traffic wardens try to keep traffic under control. I salute their efforts. In all weather conditions they’re out and about to keep the drivers safe but do they get any respect? Sadly no.

The horns! Non stop honking if a vehicle at front of you is slow for nanosecond. If you are a westerner crossing the road here, you will think the horn is directed at you. No, not at all. Spend some days here and you will get used to it. Well, these viewpoints do not reflect all drivers of my country of course. For example, people in Islamabad are calm and composed on the roads, abiding by the rules. Crossing the road requires less artistic skill than in other cities 😂

Aaron Seleka
April 9, 2022 2:51 pm

Oh, good topic 🙂 In South Africa, pedestrians enter zebra crossings at their own risk. Drivers all know what a zebra crossing means – that you give way to the pedestrian – but because drivers are in a hurry and there is no culture of stopping for pedestrians, they take the gap. Pedestrians must only cross when the coast is clear or else they risk serious injury or death.

When I’ve traveled to parts of Europe I’ve been in awe of how the pedestrian is respected by drivers. I traveled to Hungary and I felt so comfortable stepping into a zebra crossing without even looking at the oncoming cars, knowing they would stop. Cape Town, South Africa is a European tourist mecca for its affordable prices and its beautiful wine, farms and scenery. However I always feel sorry for the culture shock experienced by, for example, tour groups of Germans trying to walk over a zebra crossing for the first time, only to find that drivers give them no respect.

One weird quirk is that zebra crossings in closed environments such as university campuses, schools, and hospitals are much more respected by drivers. But out in the streets of urban centres, it is a real jungle.

Amin Rashad
April 10, 2022 3:18 pm

You have Vietnam on the list, my friend. You’re in good company. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to cross the road there. I took a weekend trip to HCM/Saigon; a very beautiful city. The roads are terrifying! This is coming from a guy who can handle Indian road without issue. Vietnam is like final boss level when it comes to crossing roads. The only times I could do it was when I superglued myself to a local (not literally!).

On my second day there I was brimming with self-confidence. This ain’t a big deal, I reassured myself. I waited at a road crossing as a gigantic mass of cars and mopeds passed. Ok, any minute now I’ll step forward. Just waiting for the right moment…

5 minutes later I was hadn’t budged an inch. At least in India, you know when there’s an opportunity to cross. The traffic kept on coming but the opportunity never came. Or maybe it was just me – I guess I’m a softy when it comes to putting myself at risk of serious injury (lol!).

Seriously though, I have an app idea. It is an app that provides directions for tourists to explore a city without having to cross any main roads. You get to see the city and you don’t have to suffer the humiliation of defeat by an intimidating road crossing. The best of both worlds! Right, I have put my idea out there. Any investors who think this could be the next unicorn, hit me up. Let’s start with a million dollar investment. An office with an ocean view would be nice too..

April 11, 2022 6:11 am

Crossing roads in Nigeria is like an extreme sport. Drivers simply do not care about pedestrians. Here is some information and tips to help put crossing Nigerian roads into perspective.

  • “Look left, look right, look left again” does not work in Nigeria. You still have to look both ways before crossing a one-way street. People regularly drive in the opposite direction to traffic.
  • Zebra crossings are not your concern. Mainly because zebra crossings are nothing but Tom-Tom adverts to Nigerians.
  • Run, even though the road is completely free.
  • Just because one driver stops for you, doesn’t mean the others will. Some drivers cannot see you crossing the road.
  • Pedestrian bridges are really just there for decoration.
  • Nigerians are colour blind, so a red light isn’t necessarily an opportunity to cross.

Much of this comes down to the state of our roads. Law enforcement agencies keep trying to make the situation better but it is an uphill battle. For major roads and expressways, the bad condition of roads and non adherence to movement rules have contributed to the tightness of roads. Double lane roads have been reduced to single ones as a result. People also move in multiple directions on single directional lanes. The market areas are worse. Traders literally sell their wares on the road. Cars, tricycles, buses, motorcycles and bicycles all pass through the same tight roads. On other roads and in streets, double parking is a major contributor and there are usually no rules to guide the action.

Like I said, crossing roads in Nigeria is like an extreme sport.