Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pozor! Pt. 2 - more peril and pain in Bratislava's urban landscape

Since my last post on the perils and potholes of Bratislava's pockmarked streets, I have stumbled on some more amusing perilous urban obstacles that I thought worthy of bringing up in a second post on the subject.

First I want to revisit this extremely slippery-when-wet stairway that I covered in the last post, as there is now a large chunk missing from its top step. To be fair, it was probably more dangerous before somebody took the loose and dangerously wobbly step away, but still - pozor!

Now take Obchodna, a bustling shopping street that is pedestrianized, except that pedestrians have to share it with a steady stream of trams. I have routinely seen pedestrians narrowly avoid getting flattened when ambling through this intersection in the two photos below as the trams whip around this blind corner. 

At this intersection where Obchodna meets Hurbanovo, trams
regularly whip around this tight, blind corner.
Facing the start of Obchodna, just to the left of the above photo:
people walking through here must cross the tram tracks, which
have no bright or textured borders to alert you that they are indeed
active tracks. People walking in the direction of this man in the
photo with the briefcase can't see whether a tram is about to hurdle
around the blind corner until it's almost too late. 

For those on foot, the trams are dangerous in general, as they are relatively quiet, they accelerate deceptively fast, and by law they do NOT have to yield to pedestrians. Tram drivers evidently take this law to mean that it's open season on pedestrians, as if they are not legally responsible for nailing anyone caught in their path. I have seen several instances where people (in crosswalks) came within inches of being run mowed down by trams. Terezia once witnessed an elderly woman who fell down on the tracks adjacent to a tram stop. A tram was barreling through and Terezia had to quickly reach down and help the woman get up and get out of the way, while the tram driver looked like he had no intention of slowing down or stopping. The drivers simply act like they don't even notice the people whose lives they nearly obliterate. 

If you continue down Obchodna, you'll notice that for much of it, there is virtually nothing to separate the pedestrian walkways along the sides from the tram tracks in the center; no raised sidewalks (except for a couple of short stretches), no bright yellow idiot buffer lines, no railings, no border of bumpy textured paving stones to let blind people know they're about to walk onto the tram tracks. 

And of course Obchodna wouldn't be complete without this nice pothole right smack in the middle of a crosswalk where the pedestrianized section ends. Pozor!

Check out this fountain in the modern Aupark shopping mall in Petrzalka: 

I love how in Slovakia you can just build stuff like this without any regard as to what might happen to idiots on their cell phones or hyperactive kids when they don't notice the fountain. Okay, so this fountain is bordered by a very slight and narrow ramp, but c'mon, the water goes right up to the edge, and the texture and color of the marble on the floor is virtually the same as that under the water (basically camouflaging the water). Like I mentioned in my last post, I really think that the culture here must be far less litigious than in the US, because in the US you simply couldn't get away with creating a fountain like this without erecting some kind of barricade around it. I'd be a little surprised if someone hasn't walked into this thing yet. 

Next let's visit the paved promenade along the left bank of the Danube. They have recently repainted the bike lane along the stretch between the Novy Most and the River Park complex. That's all fine and good, except that they have widened the bike lane so that there's not much room left for pedestrians, who definitely outnumber the cyclists who ride through here. I don't cycle along this stretch because the pedestrians are usually ambling into the bike lane anyway, and the pavement is annoyingly bumpy and warped at certain points. Interestingly, this newly expanded bike lane has been getting a lot of attention in the local papers. 

Notice these loose cobblestones at the bottom of Beblaveho street, which is one of the most commonly used routes for ascending the castle hill. 

And finally, watch out for that rogue stone step!

1 comment:

  1. Ojoj! I am a Elektricka near-fatality!
    I cannot believe how those moving murder-wagons glide through the streets like enormous sparking shrieking caterpillars of prey.
    And this is not our first COMMENTS exchange on the topic. I see Bratislava has not yet fixed the problem. (What problem?)