Friday, July 03, 2015

Rules as 'suggestions' in Cyprus...

Last night, around 9.00pm we went for a short walk to deliver some DVDs to a friend. Even at this time of year, it's totally dark by that time, but still warm, now that Summer is well and truly here.

Visitors have regularly commented that crossing main roads in Cyprus (or, at anyrate, in Larnaka) is not an enjoyable experience. We've got used to it now; when traffic is coming in both directions, the secret is to look for a gap on one's own side of the road, and then cross to the middle. It feels very precarious at first, balancing on a white line while cars whizz by both behind and in front. However, the ones in front almost invariably stop when they see someone in the middle of the street, and cheerfully wave them over.

Indeed, it's often safer than crossing at an official pelican or other crossing where there are traffic lights. In most of the world, a red traffic light means 'stop' while amber means 'slow down if you can'. In Cyprus, an amber light apparently means 'speed up', and red means, 'you might be in trouble if you run someone over, or crash into another car, but if you can get through safely, go ahead.'

This is bad enough at major sets of traffic lights, although most cars do, eventually, stop for red lights, which allows careful pedestrians to cross. But at pelican crossings it's far from certain that anyone will stop. Sometimes I have pressed the button, and watched cars continue to whizz past as the lights turn red, then back to green. The little green man flashing to tell me it's safe to cross is not correct.

I haven't crossed at this particular crossing for some time, but I wasn't surprised to see this as we approached:

You might think that photo shows cars driving past, despite the light being red. But further examination will show that there are no lights on in the cars. And most people in Cyprus do, at least, use their headlights after dark, and rear lights too when they're not broken.

No, this is yet another example of the law (and there are official Cyprus rules of the road) being treated more as a suggestion than a serious rule. Policemen are unlikely to be about at night, so cars park almost anywhere, including the sides of the crossing.

But what amused us was what happened after we pressed the button and the traffic light turned red. A green man started flashing... but the red 'stop' man was still showing too, directly above:

It was a useful reminder that, even though it was theoretically safe to cross the road, it was a good idea to check first, and remain 'stopped' unless we were quite certain. And, indeed, a couple of cars sped by before we were able to cross.

I suppose this would be a good point to link to a post I thoroughly enjoyed writing, nearly nine years ago, about the vagaries of the Cyprus rules of the road

On a somewhat unrelated note, we were also amused to see this labelling and contents in our local small grocery shop earlier today:

Surely, in any other country, the Trades Description Act would have something to say?!

1 comment:

eleni said...

Sad but so true!