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.
(Thanks to Matt Harms for permission to use his pictures)