I have yet to formulate a post that accurately describes the driving in Kiev. And then, after Cairo and now driving around here myself for a few months, things don't seem as crazy on that front as they once did. Generally, you just have to come to grips with the fact that driving is not a passive activity. It's drive or be driven.
When we first got here, I was MOST annoyed with the parking situations here. Mostly because we were on foot and it was terribly assinine to have to go around cars that were in the middle of the sidewalk, or get honked at by cars who were trying to drive down the sidewalk, looking for a place to park.
I snapped pictures whenever I got annoyed, but now, too, I look at the photos and am not sure that they are as shocking or irritating as I thought they were. But I'm going to post them for your review. I'd love to know if I could now be considered slightly nuts for thinking these parking strategies are normal, even creative.
I did miss one fabulous snapshot of a car driving down the sidewalk in front of us that stopped at the corner and waited for the WALK signal to enter the roadway. That was a highlight.
But anyway...Here's some samples of parking in Kiev:
The best thing about this one is that the building just beyond the group of people is a car dealership - when we first got here, they parked some of the cars they had for sale out on the sidewalk. And other (currently being) used vehicles would park in and around them. The showroom of the dealership is in those big windows, like a store front. Nothing like America's big mega lots and neon-blue lit showrooms. They just pick a piece of sidewalk and call it a car dealership.
Basically, to park you just need to swerve off the roadway at enough speed to make it over the curb and then stop quickly enough so you don't run into a tree.
This next picture shows one of my favorite kinds of drivers. The ones that drive right on a pedestrian's heels and then when the pedestrian doesn't move OFF THE SIDEWALK quickly enough, they honk. And scare the bejeebies out of the children in the pedestrian's double stroller. Then they cruise to the end of the sidewalk only to get stuck waiting for the delivery van that they could have seen all along was going to impede their progress more than the pedestrian ever did.
Next: triple parking, anyone? (The only real rule is not to park where you might obstruct a driveway. But that's only really a rule because if anyone needs to get out or into the driveway, they'll just bash into your car to let you know that you shouldn't have parked there.)
Then there are fun situation caused by a combination of parking and road / plumbing / cable repair. The blue car (top) is parked, mostly on the sidewalk. The repair men borrowed some cones that aren't even theirs to mark off a couple feet around them and the pothole in which they are fishing, and the other blue car (bottom) is squeezing by them. At full speed. Awesome.
Some buildings put out cones like these, attached to wires, and lay out a string of cones to show that no one should park where the cones are. But if you want, you can just run over the cones and park straddling the wire. (The road area on the left is supposed to allow two directions of traffic to pass on this road. Hmmmm.)
Or if you want, you can have your buddy hop out of the van and move a couple cones onto the sidewalk and park there anyway. Those cones were, after all, probably meant for someone else. Definitely not for you.
Lots of businesses, particularly ones in smaller side streets that rely on foot traffic and/or appreciate some sidewalk in front have started putting planters / parking stoppers on the street side of their sidewalk. This deters a lot of sidewalk parking most of the time. But on wider roads even the planters don't work well because people will then just park vertically (nose on the sidewalk, back end protruding on the street) between the planters, instead of parallel parking on the sidewalk.
I liked the planter idea a lot, though. Then my husband went to pull onto the street and ran over one. After parking on the sidewalk. There went the front bumper.
I do like these little posts, though. I cackled when they started installing them because my stroller would no longer be thwarted by cars parked bumper to bumper against the building, causing us to have to walk on the street where cars came careening around the corner on a regular basis. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
Even though I'm getting used to seeing the lovely parking that goes on here, it still makes me sad. Kiev really could be a beautiful city, and you can tell that a lot of the sidewalks are paved with nice stones and designed for a more pedestrian-oriented population and a culture that, in general, loves to get out and walk and socialize as they stroll. But lack of city planning and too many cars and lots of people who think that rules or courtesy or a small level of decorum or respect don't apply to them are really making a mess of it.