Let me preface this by saying that crossing the street in Rome–and other parts of Italy for that matter–is beyond terrifying, but I did manage to somewhat master this deadly art. Don’t get me wrong, my heart still jumps into my throat every time I take that first intimidating step directly in front of oncoming traffic into the crosswalk, but it’s what you have to do, otherwise the vehicles won’t stop for you. I don’t gaze towards the buses, taxis, Smart Cars or motorbikes that seem as though they’re going make roadkill of me. I look straight ahead, keep walking and I’ve always been fine. I will, on occasion, make eye contact with the driver of the first car, bus, etc. as I take that first confident stride if I feel the situation calls for it, but other than that, it’s sempre diretto!
Dear all tourists: please follow suit!!
The only time I have ever felt in peril is when there has been a group of you standing on the sidewalk “testing the waters” so to speak. You take two steps into the crosswalk, see the cars, then step back. Then you repeat these antics. Please stop doing this…you have to just go!! This behavior confuses the drivers and endangers the lives of those of us who know the street-crossing ropes. Also, when you see someone who knows what she’s doing step into the street, don’t gasp because you could startle her, cause her to stop in place and put her in danger. The drivers are watching the pedestrians cross and are timing the pedestrians’ pace in their heads, calculating when the street-crosser is out of their path so they can hit the gas and continue on their merry way. If one stops dead in his or her tracks in the crosswalk, it could be fatal. So don’t put another person’s life at risk…please just cross the street with confidence. As horrid as this may seem, the drivers will stop for you. You just have to physically be in the crosswalk first. (Note: this only applies when there is no pedestrian traffic light. If the crosswalk has one, you wait until it’s green before proceeding.)