Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Parisian driving

(saving a comment I wrote on a boards.ie thread)

I thought we had some crappy driving here (in Ireland), but visiting Paris for a week really put things in perspective.

Firstly, if you're a pedestrian walking at a crossing, even if it's a signalled one with a green light in your favour, drivers will happily continue to fly around corners and barrel through the crossing. Get in their way and either get knocked down or beeped into deafness.

Secondly, remember that two-second clearance rule here? The TV safety ads suggest that when the car in front passes a point, you should be able to say "only a fool breaks the two second rule" before you pass the same point. In Paris it's "only a foo- ARGHHH!", with cars overtaking you (from any side) and diving into your lane after having barely cleared your car. This happens all the time. The cars behind don't even brake when it happens, so the tacit understanding seems to be a) one or two metres of clearance is an acceptable distance at 100kph and b) overtaking drivers will never have to suddenly brake while directly in front of my car. Weird.

The two and a half hour trip from Amboise back to Paris really made this clear: drivers will gladly overtake a bus and pull in front with about two metres' clearance. Not only that, but the bus driver starts to pull into the lane they just left, while they're still moving into our lane with two metres' clearance.
All of this is completely normal there.

And as probably everyone knows, parking there means gently (or not) backing into the car behind you, then forward into the next one, then back and forth repeatedly bashing the surrounding cars until your car is wedged into a space with two inches to spare on one side, with bumpers touching on one side. Almost every car's registration plate and bumper is dented, scratched or missing.

So I arrived back in Dublin airport thinking "I guess the standard over here isn't so bad really", just as a shitestain of a taxi driver in a silver Merc floored it as soon as the green man started to flash, as I was already running across the pedestrian crossing pushing a trolley full of bags which missed his car by about two inches as it screamed past me.
If that thing didn't have its own brakes, you were getting a heavy iron trolley in the rear left wing. I was sorely tempted to just let it happen too, but settled for a rapidly-shouted "my light's still green, you stupid fucking bastard!"

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