Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Swirling Thoughts #154 - Things they don’t teach you in the driver’s ed crash course for olim – I will teach them to you now!

Curb your enthusiasm…
There are black and white striped curbs. And red and white striped curbs. There are red and yellow striped curbs. And there are blue and white striped curbs. After a full year I have cleverly deduced that the stripes demarcate zones as follows: (black and white) keep moving zone, (red and white) you may stop but don’t park zone, (red and yellow) bus zone, (blue and white) you may (pay and) park zone.

Not all stripes are created equal
In Meah Sharim, the blue and white stripes indicate that you may park but you have to magically know that you need to go into the nearest store and buy a ticket to pay for your parking. There is no sign indicating any of this. You just have to know it. And now you do!

In Efrat, I think it’s safe to say everything is treated as a (free) parking zone independent of the color stripes, save for the black and white. But that’s obvious. They paint the rim of the traffic circles black and white. Not even the people who park on the sidewalk would park there!

If you’re past the blue and white stripe zone in Meah Sharim and you ask a local where to park they may direct you to the sidewalk. You will look around, see other cars parked on the sidewalk, see no signs forbidding sidewalk parking and you will park and be on your way. This is what happened to my dear friend Michal. Just as she returned to her car, a traffic officer approached. He reprimanded her for parking on the sidewalk.
I’m going to write you a ticket! He shouts.
She’s not bothering anyone! A voice calls out.
Several locals then reprimanded the police officer for reprimanding Michal because she was not bothering anyone with her sidewalk parking. While they argued the merits of law abidance she quietly slipped into her car and drove away. My dear friend Michal, fugitive from justice.

To be fair…
You get a lot of mixed signals regarding sidewalk parking in Israel. It’s totally permitted, encouraged even, in the German Colony in Jerusalem. In other places it’s sort of tolerated – like on a Thursday morning in Efrat when the grocery store parking lot is full but there’s a big hunk of empty sidewalk. Or let’s say you do your banking on the very busy Derech Hevron. You’re not going to block a whole lane of traffic parking on this busy thoroughfare. It’s almost like they expect you to park up on the sidewalk there but they can’t say it outright. It’s a don’t ask, don’t tell policy as far as I can see. For the record, I can barely bring myself to do metered sidewalk parking – climbing a curb with your car is so unnatural!

It’s also unnatural to park in a big box with an X through it!
My friends all have big boxes with X’s in them in front of their houses. I figured these X spots mean no parking. Guess what? The X spot means no parking unless it’s your house. Oh, how those X spots would go over in Brooklyn!

Someone should really tell a girl from Maryland this one
The dotted white lines in the road mean what you think – sort of. You can YES pass. But guess what – they are divider lines and the road has two-way traffic! Looking for yellow lines? If you find them, you are in the wrong place – those indicate taxi and bus only lanes. Get out quick! Oh, and the lane that had all white lines last week might have changed to a bus and taxi only lane since then so you will have to simultaneously get out of that lane and map out an alternate route ASAP.

Shoulders, in Israel are courtesy lanes
Big trucks lumbering up hills will courteously edge over onto the shoulder so that you can pass them on the left. This said, there will be drivers who, by all estimation, should edge over onto the shoulder to let you pass but they won’t. And so you will be expected to pass them into oncoming traffic. Where the exact same scenario will be playing out in the other direction. There is a stretch of road from the 60 to Beitar Illit that is technically a 2 lane highway but realistically it can fit 3 cars across. In practice, there are usually 4 cars across the width at any point, the inner two just narrowly missing each other in a game of chicken which instantly has me singing that song from Footloose…

1 comment:

  1. love it! signed - the constant fugitive