Thursday, May 06, 2010

Kiev Tales: Driving

Just about anything is possible on the streets of Kiev. Patched-up, rusty old Ladas sit side by side with sleek SUVs, Soviet-built trucks belch thick black smoke next to spotlessly clean Humvees, and an elderly tramp stands in the middle of the road with a fishing rod, ignoring the beeps and curses. The biggest cars are almost always painted black, the colour of power since the days of the Bolshevik Commissars. Hardly anyone drives a small car if they can afford anything bigger. The only thing that unites them all is their disregard for the law.

Theoretically you should be safe when crossing the road on green, but traffic is still able to turn into and out of the road and not every driver thinks a pedestrian merits a stop. Cars speed up at corners, come through on red, weave in and out of lanes. The pavements aren't always very much safer: some are almost as wide as the roads, making them ideal for use as semi-permanent car parks and occasional short cuts by the more impatient drivers.

Odessa isn't very different. There are just more potholes.

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