Crossing the street in Saint-Petersburg is a serious decision that needs to be made with the greatest care and vigilance.
In New York City, and in just about every city in America I’ve been to, one ought to look both ways before crossing the street, preferably do so in a crosswalk, and—ideally—when the little man is blinking green. However, if any of the aforementioned circumstances have not been met, you can still sue any asshole who runs you over for his house, his car, and his childrens’ childrens’ college savings.
The pedestrian has more than the right-of-way: he has the right-of-morality, of environmental superiority, ah—that we would all walk or bicycle, the world would be a safer, happier, conscientious, smogless place!
Not so in Saint-Petersburg. In Saint-Petersburg, if you are walking, it is because you are one of the low class bums who is too poor to get a cool car, and therefore must walk. It’s the logic of the horse and buggy days: the rich had horses and the poor walked. I, in my cool car, am of a higher class; thus I always have the right-of-way, and you, with all your uncool bipedal trumblings, ought to move your ass the hell out of the way.
Remember the Marquis from A Tale of Two Cities after trampling a man’s child:
I would ride over any of you [poor proletariat commoners] very willingly, and exterminate you from the earth. If I knew which rascal threw at the carriage, and if that brigand were sufficiently near it, he should be crushed under the wheels.
Don’t expect a successful lawsuit either.
Turn the news on just about any day of the week and you’ll hear reports of some unfortunate fellow who was run over. One young lady, maybe 25, was mid-step to get on a bus when the driver (perhaps intentionally) drove away. She fell down and both her legs were run over at the shins. Reporters recorded her as she called the bus company from her hospital bed, and the bus company told her that it would be “impossible” to figure out which driver was responsible (despite knowing the bus number, and the time she tried to get on the bus).
“Well, what are you going to do then? I’m going to lose both my legs” she asked.
“What do you expect us to do, would you like us to send you a fruit basket?” they mocked.
Let’s also not forget that it is completely legal to drink on the streets in Russia, and as far as I can tell, M.A.D.D. have yet to establish a branch here in Saint-Petersburg, so you run into stuff like this once in a while.
(This car met end was abandoned here in the middle of downtown Saint-Petersburg).
So look both ways. Because in Russia, drivers are drunk, entitled, and human life—like the ruble—is worth less.