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Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?

As I have written many times, traffic is at times brutal here in the Philippines. With the drivers passing in oncoming lanes and motorcycles waving in and out of traffic and even driving on shoulders and sidewalks it is a dangerous place to be a pedestrian.

At times, I am surprised that there are so few accidents with vehicles and pedestrians. There are crosswalks painted on the roads and in some places, the lane markers have blinking lights in them at crosswalks. Unfortunately, drivers do not follow the laws or the signs posted.

The only place I ever see any manned traffic control for pedestrians is at a school crossing. A uniformed person will stand in the middle of road and stop traffic to let children cross. Most of the time this person’s authority is respected.

There are some pedestrian “flyovers” which is a bridge over traffic for people to climb the steps and cross above traffic. Because these are covered, you will find many beggars and peddlers crowded on the stairs and raised walkway.

The way most of the people cross the street except at intersections with traffic lights is just to cross. They look for a possible gap in the traffic and just cross. At times, you see people crowded in the middle of a four-lane road waiting to scoot between cars to get across.

In some ways, it reminds me of crossing the street in New York City. I used to joke, with the Right on Red and others jumping the lights, it is safer to cross the street in the middle of the block then at intersections.

Best advice is, be careful, be quick and look both ways. Caution is the safest way to live in most cases here.

10 Responses to “Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?”

  1. Steve in Davao says:

    Bruce, as you well know, pedestrian crosswalks mean nothing here. Most drivers continue thru with no regard for the people crossing. The rule is simple, cars can kill pedestrians so cars win! I’ve seen cars stop for pedestrians only to have a taxi go around them and cut thru the crossing pedestrians as if they were in his way. Motorscooters are very dangerous because they will split traffic come right on ahead without a single thought for people crossing. Crossing the street is more dangerous here than in any other city I’ve ever been in (and that’s alot of cities).
    Be careful, be quick and look boyh ways says it all.
    SteveinDavao

  2. Lonnie Carreau says:

    In the short time I was there, I never did figure out how to cross a street. I would cross with a local and position myself so the local would get hit first figuring they new the right way to get across.

    -Lonnie

  3. Hi Bruce,

    Yes, it is a dangerous adventure! Motor vehicles of all sorts seem to use pedestrian crosswalks as aiming points for their vehicles – sort of “Oh look, lots of pedestrians. Let’s go for them!” I usually join a group – sort of the herd instinct! It is even more fun when the traffic lights are not working.

  4. richard tompkins says:

    The largest vehicle, and the loudest horn has the right of way.

    • Bruce says:

      Richard,

      When I first moved here, I wrote an article called “The law of tonnage” in other words, he with the most weight wins.

  5. Evelyn says:

    bruce, you have mentioned about the pedestrian flyovers—-i saw in the news (TV Patrol) this is in Manila,that this is the place where robberies take place..it is not only home to peddlers and beggars but also to robbers and snatchers…scary…

    • Bruce says:

      Evelyn,

      Here in Davao, the few times I have used a flyover it was daytime. I guess the seedier life is there after dark.

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