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Greatest Dangers To Travel Safety Are Uneven Sidewalks Obstructed Clearances Followed By Being Struck By Traffic Motorized Or Pedal - Dangers

This article written by Mark Hennesey a verified member to the travel community. Thanks Mark.

Tue, 28 Jun 2016 21:16:21

Pot Hotles Abroad

I'm convinced the greatest dangers I face while traveling are not the threat of assault or robbery. 

Absolutely the greatest dangers to my health and physical safety are uneven sidewalks and road surfaces, obstructed clearances, followed by being struck by traffic, motorized or pedal.

The following is not a criticism but rather a commentary.
I cannot change the prevailing conditions in countries that I visit.

What I can do is pay attention, what I must do is pay attention, otherwise, I could easily injury myself or worse, be severely injuried by others.

If I don't pay extreme attention while walking, odds are I'll trip and fall, or fall into something like a missing drainage grate, strike my head against a corrugated roof hanging over the sidewalk, or perhaps ground a live frayed extension cable draped across the sidewalk. 

Being a six footer in a five foot eight culture will guarantee headaches if not paying attention.

I used to take photos of what I refer to as "gringo traps" in Mexico. I have literally hundreds of examples of common sense violations that are tolerated along the sidewalks.


Slow down, never walk distracted using a phone or electronic device, staring at a paper map or GPS. 

Wearing ear buds for music is a death wish.

Stop, then use your digital whatever. 

Pay attention while talking with fellow walkers.

Have you ever seen someone walk into a pole or colonial era stone window sill, jutting into and four feet above the sidewalk, while chatting away? Never pretty.

As for traffic. Remember when we were taught to look twice before crossing the street.

Well, that's antiquated 20th century thinking.  

I walked to school, 7th through 12th grades, with my neighborhood buddies in suburban Minneapolis, school year-round. Snow, below zero, rain, whatever. We walked.

Our parents had cars, but they wanted independent children. Today that's probably a felony child endangerment crime.

Today's 21st Century walking lesson is;

Look twice, look twice again, and keep on looking. 

I used to ride motorcycles. "Put your head on a swivel" is what I was taught. The same goes for Hobo walking.

One way streets in Latin America, for example, aren't.

Guaranteed, a motorbike or bicycle will whiz by within inches (Ole Toro) against the designated traffic flow, especially at night, no lights on, at least once within week one, wherever you go, if you are not paying strict attention.

Just like the Yank's first week in London, not used to wrong side of the road driving, (jingoist Americanism there) who steps out into traffic and is clobbered, you too can become an emergency room visitor when a wrong way, no lights on scooter, hits you at 25 mile per hour.

He won't stick around to help you up, if he can drive off, poof, he's gone. Nothing personal, it's the culture, hit and skedaddle.


Look twice, look twice again, and keep on looking.

I carry a powerful flashlight to see the walking surfaces at night, and to warn oncoming traffic, that, Hey Driver, I'm here.

In the day, if crossing the road with close oncoming traffic, I look at the driver's eyes, and point, as if to say, please see me here, don't run me over. Pointing is a useful tool. Will they slow down? Some won't, remember that. 

In cities with designated one way streets, I try to walk against the flow of traffic. I think voluntarily putting the traffic at your back is foolish at best, suicidal at worst. I can't dodge a vehicle I don't see. Keeping the traffic coming at me is safer.

At corners waiting for traffic, I never stand at the curb. I stand back, often peeking from behind a building, a pole or other fixed object that might slow down an out of control vehicle.

Too frequently we read about out of control cars mowing down pedestrians on crowded sidewalks. That's in the USA! 

In developing countries this risks increase substantially, so protect yourself, walk against the flow, slow down,
look around and up, and keep on looking.

One way streets aren't.

Walking while distracted in the developing world will bring for certain negative consequences.

Hitting the asphalt or concrete deck is not on a Hobo's itinerary. Stepping into an uncovered deep drainage box (attached picture) can destroy body parts. There will be zero recourse, no litigation to pay the medical bills. It's always your fault.

My number one travel rule is: No bleeding!

Let's review.

●Walking is dangerous, pay attention
●No distracted walking, look around, look up
●Put your head on a swivel
●Walk against the traffic flow where possible
●At night be extra vigilant as vehicles drive without lights
●One way streets aren't
●Carry a powerful flashlight
●Look twice, look twice again, and keep on looking 
Happy trails to you!