Jaywalking

By: Lorella H.

Kampala, Uganda

Jaywalking is a way of life here, and I have overcome my deeply ingrained training to cross the street at the corner.  During peak times, traffic in Kampala is notoriously crowded and chaotic—unfortunately, there are a lot of peak times and we tend to be out & about mostly during them.  It seems especially dangerous to cross at an intersection, where there are so many options for what the vehicles could be doing and few drivers are bothering to signal.  I’ve seen occasional stop signs and even some traffic lights, but those seem to be taken, like the Pirates’ Code, as “more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.”  And most of the major intersections downtown are uncontrolled anyway.  Roundabouts are the worst, from a pedestrian standpoint, because every driver is moving at a different speed toward a different destination and none of them intends to stop.  If you cross in the middle of the block, you at least know which vehicles are heading in your direction and can aim to dodge them accordingly.  In the US there’s a presumption that drivers would strongly prefer not to hit a pedestrian; I’m not at all sure that presumption applies in Kampala, where the buses, cars, and boda-bodas seem to own the road.

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