Dancing through the Street of Buenos Aires

Safety in Buenos Aires — By

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A day in Buenos Aires is enough to notice that jaywalking is rampant, and there is a blatant disregard for traffic lights and crosswalks.  People cross the street when cars aren´t coming, not specifically when they are at a crosswalk or when there is a walk sign.

There IS actually a law against jaywalking, but you can do it right in front of a police officer, and they will rarely say anything, let along give you a ticket.  As you become accustomed to this way of crossing the street, keep these safety tips in mind:

As you are crossing the street, especially if you are walking between a line of cars, watch out for scooters.  The tend to zip through impossibly small spaces, and they don´t look for pedestrians.

Just because the person beside you is crossing the street, doesn´t mean you should.  Argentines will often cross when they shouldn’t, or when they are cutting it close.  It is quite common for people who aren´t paying attention to start crossing the street because a few other pedestrians are, not realizing that a car is about to run them over.  If you are going to jaywalk, always look both ways and be alert the entire time.

Cars and especially buses will RARELY yield to pedestrians.  They act as if they have the right of way.   Even if you are crossing with a walk light at a crosswalk, you need to be aware and careful of vehicles turning onto the street you are crossing – this is where people often get hit, or run over by a bus.

If you are jaywalking, don´t be surprised if the car that has the right of way honks, flashes his lights, speeds up, or all of the above.  Motorists don´t like you crossing in front of them, they act as if were an insult.

Want to look like an Argentine and not a gringo?  You will have to learn to cross the street like one.  This means the only thing that should prevent you from crossing the street is a vehicle coming your way….otherwise you are free to walk.   You should do so in a calm and relaxed manner, even if a car is going to miss you by inches.  If they honk, you shouldn´t even flinch.  This is the Argentine way.

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1 Comment

  1. Good observations! In BA I did a lot of street crossing without much looking, but in the middle of a horde of other people. True, the end matter is, if there’s not something in your way, go for it!

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