I’ve mentioned before that the traffic in Hanoi can be challenging for pedestrians, so today have put together some tips for crossing the road.
1. Have you prepared a will?
2. Have you designated somebody as your durable power of attorney?
3. Think about all the things you have been taught with regard to safely crossing the road. Those are mostly useless here.
4. Is the road empty? You’re probably missing something, but odds are in your favor – go for it!
In all likelihood, the road is packed with cars – possibly traveling in two directions. There is almost never a true break in traffic. What do you do now?
5. Is there a walk/don’t walk signal nearby? If so that might help a little. But the locals often ignore traffic lights, so proceed with extreme caution and trust nobody.
6. Is there a designated crosswalk? That’s nice. As far as I can tell it means nothing.
7. Is this a one way street? That’s nice. For scooters this definitely means nothing.
8. Are you at an intersection? It might be easier to jaywalk somewhere down the block, where you don’t have turning vehicles to contend with.
9. Is a local trying to cross as well? If so then follow him or her into the road, and if possible put the other person between you and the oncoming traffic.
That’s the easy stuff. Sometimes you’re on your own.
10. Step up to the edge of the road and take a breath. Try not to be afraid. There isn’t a hurry. Just try to get a sense of the rhythm of the traffic. You’re not going to find a big break. You’re just looking for your spot.
11. There are three types of vehicles to worry about. Scooters, cars, and buses. I definitely try to avoid buses and even cars if possible. As a pedestrian you are almost as big as a scooter, so they want to avoid you as much as you want to avoid them.
12. Traffic will speed up and slow down – you want to strike when the speed is slower.
13. If there is an open lane near you and there no buses and few cars in sight, this is probably a good time to go for it. Ease into the road and try not to be afraid. The scooters will go around you on either side.
14. Keep moving, but don’t make sudden moves. Be predictable. And don’t stop in the middle of the road if you can avoid it.
15. An ongoing string of vulgarities while surrounded by vehicles that could kill you is entirely appropriate. I’m particularly fond of, “Goddammit I hate this shit!”
16. When you get to the other side, just get out of the street, catch your breath, and brace yourself. You’ve probably got to do it again in a couple of minutes.