I was a pedestrian nearly the entire time I lived in Spain, and in Toledo I learned a thing or two about how to survive. The most dangerous part was when you were walking down a narrow road and a car would drive up behind you and honk. The roads in the old part of town are so narrow that the sides of the buildings have side view mirror gutters in them. I’m not sure if they were done as a preemptive measure to keep mirrors from getting scraped, or if so many mirrors scraped them that they just became that way. Now that I think about how they drive, my bet is on the second scenario.
Anyway, the basic idea is that the cars and pedestrians shared the same space, but people are more fragile and inclined to break than cars, so cars ruled. When you heard the sound of a car you were expected to scurry to the nearest doorway and let the car go by. This presented somewhat of a problem because if the occupant wanted to leave at the time you were holed up for protection, they could open their door causing you to spill out onto the road.
I remember one time when we were getting a ride and I got to experience the other side of the equation and I didn’t like it. Can you imagine the feeling of riding down incredibly narrow roads at 30mph, coming up on four way corners and not even slowing down? If ever there was an experience that could be termed “butt-clenching,” that was it.
Here are some pictures I’ve gathered to give you an idea of what it was like.
Notice the curved cutout in the wall
Where the sidewalk ends
Notice the car on the right?
(Thanks to Matt Harms for permission to use his pictures)
Wouldn’t it be cool if that town sponsored a road rally in the city? They could set up a race course in the city with maps for two man teams in Geo Metros or Mini-coops. There’d be wipe-outs everywhere. Dan, you and I could be a team. You could drive the Metro 100 mph. down the streets and I could be your navigator. I could yell, “turn left up here, no wait, map’s upside down. TURN RIGHT!” Swweeet.
No wonder there’s no escape from those running bulls!
BTW, did you ever see that?
The one you hear about is in Pamplona, but I saw a small town version of it right before the bullfight. One of the reasons so many people do it is because you get into the bullfight for free.
I can hear the local drivers now: “Ten points if you can hit the tourist. Fifteen for the one with the camera.”