Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Traffic in Bogota, Colombia

Written by Karen.
When someone says that traffic is heavy, or intense, or crazy, we wonder just how heavy, intense or crazy the described traffic actually is.  Is it like the 405 during rush hour in Southern California, or is it more like the pinball driving experience coming over the hill on Highway 17 into the Silicon Valley?  Or is it like nothing you have ever experienced before?

The traffic in Bogota is pretty heavy and pretty crazy.  Buses, in particular, travel at full speed when given the slightest opportunity, and everyone seems to honk. The honking of horns will start even before the light has turned green for a particular driving direction.  The horn seems to mean, ‘Get outta my way, because I’m coming through.’ 

The lowly pedestrian is at a disadvantage during this entire transacation.  Even the little green pedestrian blinking on the traffic signal does not ensure a safe passage across the street.  At times, the impression is given that the green and red lights are merely suggestions for the non-colorblind.  Sometimes followed; sometimes ignored - that’s the law of the road.  

Our apartment is located on a 4-way corner with stop signs on the cross street; our street is a thoroughfare.  Vehicles, but particularly jam-packed buses, will blast down our mixed business and residential street, sometimes getting up to around 50 mph before arriving at the next stop light.

The excitement occurs when a car comes to the place when they should be stopping at the stop sign at the intersection.  They don’t ever really stop.  They make California drivers rolling through stop signs look law abiding.  Instead, they slow down a tad and take a quick look to see if there is anyone coming down our street and then suddenly continue through, quickly getting back up to their original rate of speed.  

If there is a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed down our street, the vehicle with the right of way doesn’t slow down. Instead, horn bursts begin with intensity, ‘Get outta my way, I’m planning on coming through.’  We have heard screeching of brakes but have not heard any loud collisions of crumpled metal yet, but I’m guessing that we will before our time here is over!

The following is a brief video shot at a busy intersection near our apartment that provides an idea of what traffic during non-commute hours is really like.  You Tube Video or embedded video below.  

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