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Pedestrians in Rome

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Toronto, Canada
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Pedestrians in Rome

I was just taking an "e-walk" through the streets of Rome on Google maps. I noticed plenty of pedestrian zebra crossings on Via del Tritone in particular, but almost no traffic signals.

So...is crossing the streets in Rome one of those "adventures" where you have to just boldly go forth and pray the traffic actually stops for you? Are drivers relatively courteous, or is it a case where pedestrians have to have nerves of steel if you want to get anywhere?

We're travelling with our 2 boys (9 and 13), and I will have the death grip on younger DS's hand as he has special needs, but our 13 year old can often lolligag behind which concerns me.

Just curious what people's experiences are. Thanks.

Hebden Bridge...
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1. Re: Pedestrians in Rome

In my experience, step out boldly, make eye contact with the drivers as they slow down at the crossing and just keep walking.

If it seems scary, find a nun and cross with her....

Le Marche, Italy
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2. Re: Pedestrians in Rome

There are plenty of traffic signals in Rome, although not at every intersection. In Italy as a whole, traffic signals are nowhere near as common as they are in the US. Italy tends to rely more on roundabouts (traffic circles) to control traffic at an intersection.

At zebra crossings, the traffic will not usually stop for pedestrians; if it does, keep your eyes open, because I've seen cars pull out to pass a car stopped at a zebra crossing. Drivers will generally slow down swerve around you rather than stopping, so you're unlikely to be hit. Crossing a street in Rome can be disconcerting, but you'll soon see that if you step into the street, and start across firmly, your right to cross will be respected in one way or another. Don't hesitate and don't suddenly change speed.

I would tell your 13-year-old to keep with the group at intersections or else he'll be required to hold somebody's hand.

Newcastle upon Tyne
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3. Re: Pedestrians in Rome

It is a test of nerve crossing Roman roads but waiting for a gap in the traffic and a bold step and you'll be fine.

Be careful of the mopeds though. They don't seem to have the patience of the car drivers. Don't expect them to stop, because generally they won't but will usually give you a wide berth

Missouri
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4. Re: Pedestrians in Rome

Right, do as Danny says and wait for a lull. I've never had any trouble crossing any streets, but use common sense and don't step out in front of a speeding car! The best crossing is from Piazza Navona on your way to the Pantheon--you have to walk through some government buildings--there is a carabinieri outpost at the crosswalk. It is funny to watch the cars STOP at that crosswalk.

Eichstätt, Bayern...
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5. Re: Pedestrians in Rome

Driving in Rome - is a Nightmare, it's fairly high on my personal list of worse places I've driven in - then again I completely enjoyed driving in Naples or New Delhi (yup, got off at the wrong place, and ended up driving nearly 8 hours through the suburbs, instead of taking the Multi-lane Ring Road - though when I did reach that, it wasn't much better at that time of day)

Now, that being a bit of topic and said about driving, let's see how things are on the other side of the wheel. The Pedestrian.

Most of the Center where the main attractions are is ZTL (Zona a traffico limitato - Limited traffic zone) meaning that only authorized vehicles will be within. Residents, Busses, Taxis, Police Forces (all the different police forces: Carabinieri, Polizia di Stato/Stradale, Polizia Municipale, Polizia Provinciale, Guardia di Finanza, Polizia Penitenziaria, Guardia Forestale, Guardia Costiera - I think I got them all), Ambulances, Armed Forces Vehicles (Army, Navy, Air Force), Diplomatic Corps Vehicles (those from all the Embassies and the Italian Foreign Ministry), Fire Department, Civil Protection, Delivery Vehicles (mostly at times when you will be sleeping), Postal Vehicles, Express Couriers, Vehicles in State, Regional, Provincial and Municipal Service. (Come to think of it, that's a hell of a lot of exceptions).

Anyways, within the center some roads are barely wide enough for 2 people to pass side by side and cars don't usually go there. Along the main through-streets there are sidewalks on both sides. Now while there is no 100% guarantee that something couldn't happen, it's pretty unlikely that you would get hit by a car.

Don't be to concerned about it, no need to be anxious about walking in Rome, it's quite safe, especially in the Center. Nerves of steel are not required, just your regular awareness of your surroundings.

As my grandmother always said: "First look left, then look right, look left again and cross the road."

Or as a Colonel of the Indian Army once told me during a visit: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

Eichstätt, Bayern...
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6. Re: Pedestrians in Rome

Like bvlenci said, Romans (and Italians in general) don't really stop just because someone is standing on the sidewalk near the Zebra stripes.

You do have to make it clear that you intend on crossing, by stepping onto the street, when they see that they'll slow down and evaluate if they have to stop, or if they can sverve around you. Same goes for Scooters and Motorcycles.

Don't tardy during crossing, when you're half way over the lane behind you will be going and not wait until you're all the way over.

It sounds much more scary when being explained, than it is in reality.

They will try to avoid hitting you, though they do require reaction time, so don't just blindly jump onto the street. After all, hitting a pedestrian is usually a time consuming and expensive thing.

Toronto, Canada
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7. Re: Pedestrians in Rome

Thanks for the responses everyone. And LOL at finding a nun to cross with.

St Paul, MN
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8. Re: Pedestrians in Rome

I cross the street with a group of natives when I can. I keep one of them between me and the traffic. I watch what they do than move along with them.

Eichstätt, Bayern...
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9. Re: Pedestrians in Rome

I wouldn't trust that Nun to cross with.

A lot of Nuns currently come from the Indian Subcontinent, or other places where they drive on the wrong-side of the road.

She might look right, and get hit by the car coming from the left. Just like Winston Churchill when he tried to cross a Street in NY.

Le Marche, Italy
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10. Re: Pedestrians in Rome

Anyway, nuns are not all that plentiful these days.