Anyone who has crossed the road in Vietnam knows what being scared is. Pedestrian crossings, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, mean nothing. I thought crossing the road couldn’t get any scarier but that was before I visited Iran. Crossing the road in Iran is not for chickens, especially in traffic-choked Tehran.
In Vietnam the traffic consisted of mostly motor cycles. In Iran a total lack of respect for pedestrian crossings combines with a vehicular onslaught of cars, buses, taxis and motorcycles, the latter weaving in and out of traffic and sometimes onto pavements. Courage and resolution are needed.
Identify a gap…
…and don’t stop
On advice from our guide we always crossed as a group – safety in numbers. The rule is: spot an opportunity, step resolutely forward and NEVER stop. Hesitate and all is lost. Hestiation confuses the drivers who are used to missing pedestrians by hair-breadth margins.
Our guide explained that in Iran drivers factor in your forward progress across a road and gauge their trajectory accordingly. It may seem like they are about to plough you down but as long as you don’t stop they will invariably miss you by the narrowest of margins. When going solo the best policy is to be a complete coward and cross with as large a group of local people as possible.