maastricht traffic: walk where you are not supposed to

Some time ago someone pointed a peculiar fact of Maastricht out to me. People in Maastricht think they are allowed to walk everywhere and expect not to get hurt by someone who or something which actually drives where they should. I never really noticed it, but I guess this is due to the fact that I was born not far from Maastricht. I grew up with the fact that drivers take people who walk in the middle of the street into account.

However, I started thinking about the phenomenon. It doesn’t make sense at all. We invented sidewalks so people could walk beside the road in order to keep them safe and get a more efficient traffic flow (this would at least be the most rational explanation behind the use of a sidewalk). In Maastricht, this is an epic fail. Just go to the Vrijthof and it will take about 5 second to see someone crossing the road without a notion of driving things which can actually hurt them a lot. It is so normal that people who drive cars or busses here watch their speed more. It is like they expect someone to pop up for their vehicle for no apparent reason.

I noticed that I’m doing this as well and I’m not planning on giving up my freedom to walk in inappropriate places. It doesn’t make sense, but it is part of the wonderful down to earth lifestyle in Maastricht.  Don’t go doing this in cities other than Maastricht, because you’ll have a pretty high chance on getting an early ticket to the afterlife.

3 replies
  1. Henrik
    Henrik says:

    When i visited Maastricht the first time i actually thought that it was part of some kind of shared space project 😀

    Reply
  2. Laurent
    Laurent says:

    Now that you mention it, I’m doing the same..

    I’ve also never been aware of it, but then again, I’m also originally from close to Maastricht. I guess I should also pay more attention when doing this -in other cities, because, as you said, it’s possible to do this in Maastricht.

    I’m curious what people from abroad (or not from around Maastricht) think of this…?

    Reply
  3. Ranjit
    Ranjit says:

    Well as an Indian, I can assure you that it was the first culture shock that I encountered when I got here. I used to wait by the side of the road to let the cars pass, because that’s what you do in India to not get killed on the road.

    And to my surprise, the cars stopped and the driver of the first car and me stared at each other for five seconds wondering what’s wrong with the other guy after which he made a gesture that I should be crossing the road now instead of staring blankly at him.

    It was strange and largely surprising, but I suppose pedestrians do and should have the first right on the road with global warming being such a massive issue. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you walk in the middle of road instead of the sidewalk! I guess, at the end of the day, it was a very pleasant surprise.

    Reply

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