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[Desabafo] Brazilian Sidewalks : I've never thought much of sidewalks until I had to leave Switzerland to spend a year in Brazil. I'm not saying there aren't any footways in the South American country, but their usefulness is more than questionable. In the land of the palm trees, as the indigenous used to call the region, you'll find a variety of pavements. In fact, each building is surrounded by its own type of sidewalk. Some are made of stone, grass, earth, concrete or ceramic tiles. The latter is especially slippery when it rains. Brazilian pathways are also decorated with holes and utility poles, which are extremely helpful when pushing a stroller or going on a wheelchair. But there's more. Footways in the former Portuguese colony are bumpy and usually inclined since they also serve as ramps to garages. Maybe Brazil has bigger issues than its footpaths. But shouldn't the infrastructure for getting to work and back home on foot and safely be a primary concern? How can children even get to school in these conditions? Many people are poor and must still have a car as you're likely to die if you try moving around on foot or by bicycle. After you've managed to get along a whole block, finding your way around telegraph posts and balancing your weight on garage ramps without slipping on ceramic tiles, you'll still need to get across the street. Now, hope there is a traffic light, otherwise you may have to bide your time. Waiting for a car to stop at a crosswalk in Brazi is humiliating. It makes you realize how invisible you are. Car drivers don't even stop for children. You're better off just running across the street anywhere you'll find a gap between the cars. Research conducted in New Zealand has shown that a zebra crossing without other safety features on average increases pedestrian crashes by 28% compared to a spot without crossings. If you're poor and live in Brazil, make sure you get a good car to drive on those bumpy roads, seeing that going on foot is dicing with death. Full Article

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