Driving in this country is a hassle. Traffic Laws are not implemented but a few, and that due to the harsh measures that were adopted back in 2008 by the Interior Ministry regarding seatbelts and traffic lights. Eureka!!! Now we know what the red, orange and green lights at every corner and crossroads in the city stand for.
However over the years, as any novelty decays, people started violating the law hence endangering not only their lives but lives of those abiding by these simple rules. Sadly, the number of road death increased and many NGOs started spreading awareness on the subject matter. Even sadder turned out to be that in my country, people believe they are immortal and continue till this day to break the law so as to get to destination on time.
Throughout 2014, the Interior Ministry concocted a new up-dated version of a the Traffic Law to be implemented in April 2015. This new law saw the introduction of harsh fines to be paid in case of violation, the point system that is already in use in most of the European countries and even the renewal of the driving license every ten years. As any law that is about to be launched and not of taste of the mass (remember the indoor smoking ban!?) Lebanese growled and took a stand. The exorbitant amount to be paid for simple violations were not to the taste of many, for the simple fact that they were, well as I said, exorbitant and not within budget.
I am one of the few who embraces this law with open arms.
Yesterday was supposed to be the first day of implementing the law but due to technical pre-launch failures (as usual with anything related to the confinements of politic) was postponed. I roamed the streets of Beirut in order to take pictures of a few of the violations going around and these are the most popular and repetitive ones;
1- The double Park:
Let’s face it, the country lacks public parkings and the ones that are available are either full during the day or prioritized to those who pay a monthly fee (generally next to universities and office buildings). Hence, where to park? Pull aside, turn your flashers on and there, you have created your own private parking in the middle of the road. And with that comes a huge traffic jam with the narrowing of a two car street to one.
2- Park in the middle of no-where:
So, what you can not see in the picture is that this is a two way road (the line dividing the road is next/behind the cab). This cab driver strategically parked his car knowing that he is not hindering any cars trying to go up or down the road next to his. By strategically I mean that he is close by to the hotel (the building behind him) he tries to snatch clients from. Trying to make one’s job does not mean to violate any law (in my books that is!). Oh yes you also noticed the other cab (again) parked half on the pavement….
3- Am too cool for the road:
Most Lebanese come to the seaside to have a walk, jog and even cycle (notice: the bicycle line needs a fresh paint!). It is supposed to be a car- free pedestrian road in front of the sea, listening to the sea waves or your ipod. However, with some works being done further down the walk, a tractor decides to take the quick and easy way from the road to the pavement towards destination. Seriously!!!!
4- The crossroad Drama:
This is every driver’s nightmare (especially in Verdun!). As you can see this crossroad, although equipped with traffic light always creates havoc. No one abides by the light, especially when it switches from orange to red. It is at that exact moment that every driver tends to transform himself into a formula one driver (living the dream with his 1.6 engine). My light is green, and the bus is still crossing the road even though it turned red (for him) 5 minutes ago. This only creates more traffic and honks from every unsatisfied driver (even those that are not concerned, yet angry for waiting the green light like civilized people).
5- What is a queue?
I am within the queue, standing behind the gentleman driver, patiently waiting my turn to cross. However, not everyone feels the same way. Some, like the car to the right, cannot tolerate the wait. When the light turns green, you suddenly see the likes of those drivers pass by you and try infiltrating into the lane. Some of them create a second lane and wait as if nothing, realizing that they have created traffic jam behind them by their sudden stop and narrowing of the street. All the roads lead to Rome and eventually all of us are going to arrive to destination. I do not understand the low level of patience within such beings.
I know that there are many other violations and to be honest I witnessed a few but did not have time to snap shot them. I know we can not omit the motorcycles who zig zag their way, the cars and bikes who make sudden U-turns and enter roads fully aware that they are in the opposite direction of the right way.
I have presented you a very chaotic scene (especially those who are not familiar with the Lebanese way of life) yet a real scene of our everyday struggle. In such circumstances, I only blame the un-educated Lebanese citizen. If it were not for the laziness, lack of patience and constant violations of the road circulation, there would have not been as much traffic jam in the country. Next time you are stuck in traffic, look around you and try to find that moron who is angrily yelling at whomever wants to listen, fully acknowledging and aware that he is the cause of this riot.
ps: Please let us not blame the roads, the lack of light and so on and so forth. Do not find excuses. Start changing from within first.
pps: Now for the tags, quick post and off before the beginning of rush hour!!!