Driving me crazy...

>> Thursday, 18 March 2010

The subject of Moscow traffic is looming large in my blog right now, I know. I apologise for that; after this post I promise to write about something else - until at least next Tuesday, anyway....

Years ago, back in the mid 1990's when Husband was living in Moscow the first time round, he used to regale me with tales of how crazy the roads could get over here.

I heard stories of taxi drivers reaching into their glove compartments and pulling out bottles of vodka which, rather than drinking, they would then - whilst driving, and through an open window - tip all over their windscreen to clear away the muck. (Why? Well, it was cheaper than screen wash and of course wouldn't freeze in the low temperatures.)

He talked about how, on a Friday afternoon before a bank holiday weekend, the roads out of town were so busy that on highways without a central reservation the outgoing traffic would simply encroach on the inbound side of the road until all 6 lanes were taken up by cars leaving Moscow.

He talked of corrupt traffic police who, having pulled you over on a technicality, would simply fine you whatever you had in your wallet, and he described the closure of entire motorways for VIP's to use on their way into work on a Monday morning from their out-of-town dachas.

Ridiculous stories, surely? Urban myths, obviously. Except, as I'm sure you've guessed, all as true as the fact that I still haven't shed that last half a stone of babyweight 4 years after Boy #2 arrived. Today, however, sitting in a queue for a traffic light, I experienced a new one. The light was taking a long time to change - far longer than it normally did. In fact, when I checked the time I realised I'd been sitting there for 15 minutes without moving. 'Great', I thought. 'The (expletive deleted) lights are broken.'

But a couple of minutes later, the steady stream of traffic crossing the lights in front of me made way as a cavalcade - complete with flashing blue lights at either end - sped through it. And 30 seconds after it had gone through, the lights changed to green.


I would hate to say that Russia is a country where traffic stops for you and lights change in your favour if you're important enough, but...


Expat mum 18 March 2010 at 14:16  

Happens in Chicago too, but they just park a police car across the road instead of tinkering with the lights.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy 18 March 2010 at 14:27  

Happens here too. Oh to be so important....

Potty Mummy 18 March 2010 at 14:37  

EPM - don't get me started on the cars parked across the road. Just a couple of weeks ago, police were involved in a car chase and forced civilians to become a human roadblock. The pulled over a couple of cars, forced them to park end to end across a busy road, MADE THE DRIVERS STAY INSIDE THEM, and forced the fugitive to drive that way. Then, to add insult to injury, they refused to pay the drivers compensation after the crash that followed - because the suspect wasn't caught...

Brit, so glad it's not just us!

nappy valley girl 18 March 2010 at 16:04  

Sounds horrendous - and VERY tedious.

At least moving abroad makes us appreciate quite how civilised UK driving is. I am used to the suburban driving now but I had to drive to JFK the other day and it was just terrifying!

mothership 18 March 2010 at 18:34  

I totally, completely believe it. Years ago when I was a little girl (cough30cough) we went to the soviet union as it was then and because my grandfather was part involved in the SA communist party we were given the red carpet treatment - bizarre to say the least - and whisked around in limos and shunted to the front of the incredibly long line at REd Sq to see the corpse of Lenin under glass and - this I remember clearly - they stopped traffic lights for us.
So I believe you. And thanks for the memories :)

Mwa 18 March 2010 at 21:55  

I have to laugh at the whole one-way motorway thing. That just sounds too ridiculous for words.

Potty Mummy 19 March 2010 at 06:32  

NVG, that's exactly right!

Mothership - what an experience! And you know there's a post in there, right?

Mwa, it IS ridiculous - but then, that's just our perspective, I suppose...

A Modern Mother 19 March 2010 at 14:04  

I guess I shouldn't complain about getting stuck on the M4 then...

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings 20 March 2010 at 02:30  

Was it Putin? Huh...interesting though....

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