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Life Arts    H4'ed 2/18/19

Pedestrian

February 2019

I am a Pedestrian; and that is a big problem for me living in the Republic of Georgia. A Pedestrian by definition is someone who would rather walk than travel in a vehicle. So, while that is true for me, it does not mean I am opposed to vehicles; but, I really enjoy walking. That is until I relocated to Georgia.

To begin, I live in Tbilisi and I will speak about walking here in Tbilisi before I leave the city to go into being a Pedestrian in the village.

It is very difficult walking in Tbilisi because the sidewalks, in most areas, are broken or uneven. Cement tiles are often used for sidewalks and most are not secured so that they rock when you walk on them; or worse; they are sticking up (or pieces of the tile is sticking up) from the ground. When I say uneven, I mean that often there are depressions in the concrete that will feel like you are stepping into a hole. Wow, one minute you are on solid ground and the next I am tilting downward.

It is just not fun walking here as pipes or metal rods are often sticking out of the ground (no idea why).

So, yes... I have tripped or fell a couple of time here as a result of not seeing slabs or a pile of dried concrete left in the middle of the sidewalk. I've been lucky as I was not seriously hurt; but, every day is a new adventure as a Pedestrian (and not in a good way). During the day is bad; but at night (and especially when raining or other types of weather) it is so difficult to navigate as the "landmines" (as I call them) are camouflaged with water, snow, ice or whatever!

To add to the woes of the Pedestrian, here in Tbilisi we can add cars into the mix as cars are allowed to ride and park on the pavements. I would be walking and hear loud honking behind me with an angry driver yelling at me to move so he/she could pass by on the pavement. They keep talking about making it unlawful to do this; but, it does not seem to be happening. When drivers pull out they don't look to see if there are people in front or behind; and, as a result I have been bumped by drivers who didn't see me behind them. My head is in a swivel position as often, due to tinted windows, I cannot see if anyone is in the car and is pulling out.

One time as I was walking on the sidewalk to get to the bus I had such a scare. You see, I forgot for the moment that here in Tbilisi I am not safe on the sidewalk and I was proven right (one cannot lose focus while walking). Many cars were stopped at a red light; however, one woman driving was not happy to be waiting. So, she turned her car onto the sidewalk I was walking on. I felt like a deer in the headlight as I just froze. I was stunned to see a car heading toward me. She realized only inches away from me; stopped and then headed the car back to the street... and I was hearing her say "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" and she sped off when the light turned green - all the while I was trying to catch my breath.

Finally, stop signs and lights don't mean a heck of a lot here. When the light changes, one better not proceed across the street until you can see that traffic is completely stopped as often cars just race through. That is one aspect but another is that when the sign says it is okay to walk cars may be turning from another direction and they are not happy that you are in their way. I hold my breath. Sometimes it feels like a drag strip as cars screech their tires making turns or speed up in order to not have to stop at a light.

Safety does not seem to be a priority here in Georgia. As a Pedestrian I mostly feel threatened and "in the way". Most days I can handle it as I know what to expect; but then there are other days when I just cannot face the chaos of walking and maintaining my safety.

I was given some very good advice almost as soon as I arrived in Georgia; that is: "Make sure that you watch out for yourself, as Georgian drivers will not watch out for you."

 

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I am a Peace Corps Volunteer living in the Republic of Georgia. I am 64 years old, retired from my position in the US and forging a new life here. I am here in Sagarejo, Georgia as a teacher with the Peace Corps. Although I am a Reading (more...)
 

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