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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Walking in Moscow: A Dance With Death

I have often written about the nature of Russian motorists, but always from the point of view of another driver. All my research was done from behind the wheel of my own car. But now my new car is still held up somewhere in Belarus and I've been getting the perspective of an ordinary Russian pedestrian.

Every driver in Moscow hates pedestrians: I think motorists have forgotten that the vast majority of the city's residents travel through the city by bus, trolleybus and metro and sometimes on foot.

I feel safe only in the metro. On the street, I fear for my life. Crossing the street is extremely dangerous: Moscow drivers do not respect zebra crossings, and I get the feeling that they accelerate their cars intentionally just as you try to cross, leaving poor pedestrians running from one side of the street to another like soldiers under fire.

It isn't even safe to cross the street when the light is green in your favor. Invariably some mad driver in a Mercedes or a BMW with tinted window who refuses to stop at a red light will zoom past. Now, I always make sure and wait several seconds before taking a step into the traffic lane.

Moscow drivers use every available space for driving in. A few days ago I was walking down Novy Arbat browsing in the windows of some electronics shops. And only a fantastic jump somewhere up and to the left rescued me from a small truck, manned by two New Russians, which was barreling down the sidewalk.

Recently there have been lots of puddles on the streets and it seems to me that Moscow drivers think it's a great joke to drive through a puddle at maximum speed covering all pedestrians nearby with a big wave of dirty, freezing water.

Motorists who work as private taxi drivers in particular think that all Moscow pedestrians are stupid and don't know their way around the streets of Moscow. If you hire a private taxi and ask the driver the price, the first amount he comes up with will be so huge, it's as though you were going to travel with him all the way from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

If you need to take a private taxi, I have only one piece of advice: Never ask the driver how much money he wants. Always tell him how much money you are willing to pay.