Judging by the insane amount of traffic and the continued irritations I’ve suffered in the last couple of months, my post Motivation to Stay Off the Roads in Chile has not been effective.
So I guess I’ll try again. Here are some more reasons to avoid driving in Santiago.
11. Tacos: No, I’m not just saying that the existence of tacos means that you should be eating them rather than driving, although I’m sure I could make an argument for that. Tacos are traffic jams. During rush hour, you might get home faster walking than driving. And with Santiago’s sprawl, that’s saying something.
As a side note, rush hour seems to be about 12 hours apart… but maybe that’s why you shouldn’t work here. Also, you’ll note that basically all cars have only one occupant.
Yes, gas is expensive. Yes, parking can be quite expensive. In fact, Esto No Tiene Nombre recently did an exposé on the “abusive charges” for parking here in the capital that cited the average daily spending at about six thousand Chilean pesos, or twelve U.S. dollars. And then there are…
13. The tolls. The toll system here in Santiago is a little too complicated for me to get into in this post. Maybe that’s one reason not to drive. You have to either buy a TAG, which is a chip that records your monthly toll use and charges you at the end of the month, or pay for daily toll passes.
To the Chileans out there: what are the costs of buying and maintaining a TAG?
14. Dogs in the street: Sometimes they are chasing cars and biting at their tires, sometimes they are running around simply being dogs, and sometimes they wait patiently at crosswalks for the light to turn green before crossing with the pedestrians. How can you drive with that kind of distraction?
15. Cyclists that don’t use their lane or helmets. Oh wait… what lanes?
The funny part is that men pass me on the sidewalk in spandex. Really? You can’t go that fast. You’re on a sidewalk. The girl with the bike basket and the skirt is gaining on you.
16. Running red lights. Red Light/Green Light is a child’s game. In the adult world, we have yellow lights. And it’s so that the teacher can’t catch you when she says “Red light!” Either that or something about keeping people from dying.
The video below is what happens every day without fail. That’s why I only had to record one time to catch people in the act!
17. Getting lost: road signs are optional. Sometimes, the name of the street is painted on the side of the street’s corner house… in the shape of a road sign. Of course, after living in Boston, it’s not so bad.
18. Stop signs after pedestrian crosswalks. What? Below is a tricky situation where there’s a yield, but not until after the crosswalk. Message: yield to cars, not pedestrians.
19. Protests and marches. Chileans are all too eager to have protests, demonstrations, or strikes (Read more on these “traffic hazards” in my post Sea Lions on Strike?). And this can cause some serious traffic problems for the entire day. Below, you see Santiago’s main street closed as students push for free education.
20. Did I mention the potholes yet? Oh, I guess I did. Here’s a new one that showed up in front of our house a couple of weeks ago. People began to desperately throw anything into the gaping hole that threatened to swallow their car.
But how will I get to work??
I’ve not only given you some reasons to stop driving, I’ve given you some reasons to start walking, cycling, taking public transportation, or to try a combination of walking, biking, and public transportation–whatever works for you. You will be surprised at the time you’ll save and the stress you’ll avoid.
Of course, Santiago still lacks much of the infrastructure that would allow it to be a more efficient and navigable city.
What are some ways we can change our thinking about transportation in Santiago? What do you do to have a more enjoyable and efficient transit to work etc.?