Friday, June 27, 2014

Sidewalk (& Parking) Culture

by Kevin

The forecast for today is sunny with a high of 95° F (35° C). It's hard to remember that a few months ago it was -40° F (-40° C). With summer in full swing, the hours of daylight in Astana are many and people are outside making up for months of arctic winter hibernation. It's much faster and easier to walk around town now than in winter, not just due to the warmer weather but because you get to use the full width of a sidewalk that doesn't have to be shoveled of snow and because there's no danger of slipping on patches of ice.

Summer; however, doesn't solve all pedestrian challenges. In fact some things actually get worse. Kazakhstanis like the Chinese have a habit of spitting on the sidewalk. In a culture that eschews blowing your nose in public, one must dodge vile globs of spittle. Apparently these were not visible on the snow and ice. (No photos necessary.) Nicer weather also brings outdoor construction and repair work. Much of that creates new obstacles to avoid.

That's quite a trench and moms pushing strollers navigate this too. Cross at your own risk.  

Was this filled with snow in winter?

And not to be forgotten, Astana has a parking culture in which cars constantly block sidewalks and crosswalks.

Yes, that car is parked-in by cars blocking the driveway.

And then there are sidewalks that just don't connect to anything.

Parking regulations and even parking meters are reported to be coming to Astana before the end of this year. Will Astana pedestrians see improvements?

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