Santo Domingo has to be one of the most pedestrian-unfriendly cities I’ve ever walked in. You definitely need to use the eyes in back of your head (and on the sides). If you don’t have eyes in back of your head, stay home. The drivers here, for the most part, have absolutely no respect for people on foot. Crosswalks are a joke and crossing streets with the light in your favor always involves risk. After the light changes from red to green, I always wait for about 5 seconds to cross because there always seems to be someone barreling along, not paying attention or else trying to blast across the street before the right-of-way traffic blocks the road entirely. I’ve almost been hit more than once, but, luckily, I was able to avoid the idiots at the last second.
Here’s a case in point from yesterday. The avenue that runs through the Parque Mirador del Sur is shut down to traffic from 4 p.m. to about 7 p.m. That’s when I do my almost-daily jog, as do hordes of others out exercising, roller blading, or bicycle riding. I got an early start yesterday, at 4, and the road was pretty much deserted of any other joggers. I ran for about half an hour then turned around and headed back to where I had started from. All of a sudden, a white car followed by a motorbike came racing down the avenue towards me and passed about 5 feet from me doing around 30-40 mph. I shouted out “estupidos” to them, but I’m sure they didn’t hear me. They weren’t police or security people; they looked like ordinary idiots trying to take a short cut through the restricted zone. If either of us had been a tad bit less aware, I’d have been plastered all over the avenue. You really, really have to pay attention as a pedestrian, no matter where you’re walking or jogging, even in a “safe” zone.
Walking on the sidewalks can be an adventure, too. Because of the intense traffic jams, motorbikers will avoid the delays by using the sidewalks. Also, more often than not, people can’t find a place to park on the street–no problem, just park on the sidewalk. At times, I have to walk into the street to get around the parked car(s). Like I said, it’s one of the most pedestrian-unfriendly cities I’ve seen.
It’s been raining since early this morning, several hours now, but not a very heavy rain, more like a continuous light shower. If this were Montana, we’d have 3 to 4 inches of snow on the ground by now. Lucky for me, it’s not.