Some of our habits can be confusing for our foreigner friends visiting the country, and one of those habits is how we cross the streets here in Egypt. We commit a crime on a daily basis and it’s called jaywalking.
Some countries have pedestrian safety rules, some countries don’t, and there is Egypt where it’s a mix between both. Indeed, fortune favors the bold, and bold we are to cross the streets as if it’s nothing.
Here’s what to tell your foreigner friends about crossing the streets in Egypt on any given day:
Crossing a street in Cairo is not an action, it’s a decision. Once you’re in, there is no way out. Egyptians cross the street whether the traffic lights are red, green, or yellow—assuming they’re working of course.
But not all jaywalkers are created equal; they can learn tips and tricks that will help them adapt to the the tricky art of crossing the street. The first step has to be mustering the courage to embark on the adventure.
Remember that old computer game where you controlled a frog trying to cross the street? It’s kinda like that.
An average street has 3 lanes. You may have to switch between them on the go, depending on the cars’ varying speed.
Precision and timing are important because once you are in the middle, there is no going back. Not only will you confuse the flow of traffic, but you may even cause a pile-up.
It’s Always in the Eyes
You have to lock eyes with the driver in the lane you are crossing for 3 reasons: to show them you have the intention to cross, to dare them, and to see if the dare is working in your favor. A strategic retreat may be necessary sometimes.
There is not much to say in a negotiation with a 2-ton, charging car. It’s got the upper hand.
Use a Human Shield
Don’t worry, no human shields are to be harmed. Consider it a form of being led by example. If you panic and feel that you can’t cross, just spot a seasoned pedestrian and follow their steps to the other side. Just copy their exact steps and they will lead you to safety.
Red Means Go!
And finally, red lights always save the day. If you can spare the time, just wait for the red lights. And in a crossroad, just wait for the traffic to alternate and go parallel to the cars’ flow.
Ask for Help
We are a helpful bunch. If you find yourself stuck, there is no shame in asking for someone to give you a hand.
Looking back at how someone would struggle with something we do in our sleep, we should all appreciate the superpowers we Egyptians have.
Yep, that’s basically “Tuesday” here…