Don’t stop us now, say Polish drivers

A sunny, normal day in the city of Poznań begins. You wake up and you’re thinking “Oh, what a beautiful day ”. You decide to go for a walk, because nothing is better than basking in the sunlight on a day like this. But suddenly, a crosswalk appears and you are not in a marvellous city anymore. You’re at war in a concrete jungle. Heavy metal tank-looking beasts are coming at you. Your only brothers in arms are other pedestrians. Looking scrawny and tiny, you decide to cross the street. After dodging around 1,5-tonne bullets, you reach the checkpoint. You are happy, but you know that you won a battle, and you most definitely lose the war eventually.

A tour de force for every biker and pedestrian in Poznań (© Grzegorz Dembiński)

If this scenario looks familiar to you, you are probably one of pedestrians in this beautiful country. But beware, you are on the list of endangered species. Why? It is so, because Polish roads are among the most dangerous in Europe. Hence, the risk of getting hurt or dying on your way to a near supermarket or a post office is higher you can imagine. And there are reasons for alarming statistics.

First, there are drivers who believe they are privileged as they afforded these expensive cages on four wheels. So, they can drive at the speed of sound wherever they are, be it a small town with narrow roads, or a motorway from Warsaw to Poznań. These people won’t stop at a pedestrian crossing, such an action would require from them too much respect for the hoi polloi. Second, there are drivers who do not realise what their cars are capable of. As they say, ignorance is bliss, but for God’s sake, these are big and heavy machines and you can kill with them. Just like with a Kalashnikov or a rocket launcher. And the death toll after a car accident may be as high as when using these weapons, so it’s baffling why don’t people think twice before speeding on the road.

One might think that I complain because I’m a pedestrian only and I don’t have any experience driving a car. This is not the case – one could call me an aficionado of driving. However, my love for this activity is put to the test every time I go on a longer journey through Poland. With many drivers cutting my car up, speeding, tailgating and occupying the left lane all the time, it is difficult to keep calm and enjoy being behind the wheel. And what is worse, the Police cannot prevent such practices, since it is busy fining pedestrians caught red-handed on crossing the street in the wrong places.

A policeman distracted from catching pedestrians on red lights. (© Maciej Kaczanowski)

Of course I have my own sins when I drive, but I try to see people instead of enemies in other road users. And simply by doing that people in Poland could enjoy driving, instead of treating roads as if they were battlefields. I hope you share this view with me.

Piotr N.

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