are no controls of any kind at almost any intersection.
That's right: no stop signs, no yield signs, no traffic cops -- zip,
nada, nothing. (And when there are controls, they're mostly ignored,
except for the occasional speed bump.)
Now take away any recognition of the pedestrian as worthy of
Still with me?
OK, now imagine that every driver at every intersection is focused
entirely on psyching everyone else into thinking he (really, it's
nearly all male drivers) is going to seize the right of way no matter
what. And everyone actually follows through on that unstated threat
all at the same time, backing off only at the last instant -- but only
if absolutely necessary, with one car an inch or two from the one
alongside or crossing another's path. Gridlock means success, because
you, the driver, stopped the other guy from going ahead of you!
Now throw in constantly blaring horns and screeching, whining brake
sounds of widely varying pitch and dissonance that punctuate the air
for no reason other than that a car, bus or truck is in motion.
Sounds like an orchestra run amok with no conductor in sight.
Finally, remove any evidence of frustration or road rage: Everything
I've just described is just accepted as normal, and nobody seems upset
or stressed. Somehow, it all just moves, and people get to wherever
they're going. Even pedestrians take things in stride, dodging,
weaving, timing their next moves at just the right instant. And
they're always honked at.
That's Lima's traffic, especially in the morning, at lunchtime, after
work and, well, pretty much all the time except when people are
asleep. And then it's just fewer vehicles moving much faster.
And in four days, I haven't yet seen an accident. And, even more
interesting is that already, we're all de-sensitized to it even when
we're in our bus heading to a clinic. Amazing.
-- Larry Shushan