Crosswalks exist in Cairo. I have seen the lines painted on the ground in crosswalk shape and a sign indicating that the area was appropriated for pedestrians to cross the street. The electric signs are a bit ominous, however, since the green figure moving across the triangle looks like he is sprinting frantically.
No one uses these crosswalks. Most of the time they don’t exist, especially at major intersections.
Allow me to paint you a picture: it’s 8:30 in the morning and you need to cross a busy street lined with Cairo life: shops, kiosks, carts, and people. It’s already hot outside and you’ve begun sweating. You can see your destination through the polluted haze on the other side of the road, and you know that you must take your life into your hands before you reach it. You approach the highway. Cars, motorbikes, and busses zoom past you. If you’re lucky, there is another poor soul taking the same route; strength lies in numbers. Too often, however, you must go it alone. The cars will not stop of their own initiative, and the only traffic light you’ve seen in Cairo was broken. You see a gap…someone had to turn. You rush forward through the first “lane.” Suddenly you’re trapped in the middle of the street, vehicles whirling around you. Another gap…you hurry to the safety of the median and forget to look to see if there are cars coming from the other direction. Out into the street you step with over-confidence and notice row of three cars rushing towards you, but one of them quickly slows down to let you by. You give them a deft wave of the hand as if to say, “That’s right. You best slow down.” Suddenly you’re almost hit by a motorbike that came out of nowhere…your hair swooshes in the air from its draft and you’ve lost your breath and need a new pair of pants.
And that’s how you cross the street. Is it dangerous, yes. Is it fun, sometimes. It helps if you scream silently to yourself. I don’t think the cars will actually hit anyone, but traffic statistics tell me otherwise.
Towards the end of the year, I want to start a competition to see who can get the fastest car to stop for them. There will be no surviving losers.