Thursday, November 4, 2010

Zebra sightings in....La Paz, Bolivia?

On our recent travels to La Paz, Bolivia, we got to witness a curious sight at the busy intersection of Sagarnaga and Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz, a huge, noisy expanse of cars, minivans, buses, and motorcycles. We climbed to the roof of San Francisco Church right next to the intersection, where we got a bird's eye view of busy La Paz street life below us. As the traffic lights rotated through the cycle from green to red, pedestrians and vehicles traded turns for physical space on the street with the help of people dressed in zebra costumes! This struck me as an amazing idea to encourage pedestrian safety and educate drivers on the rights of pedestrians in traffic crossings. (It also reminded me of the Halloween I dressed up as a zebra - I think I was around 10 years old.)

Here's a great video that gives a little history on the city of La Paz's use of human zebras at busy intersections - I guess that this traffic safety program has been in place since 2001.

I put up my own video of the zebras on youtube (although without the nifty subtitles and the cinematography of the video above!).Me posing with the zebra traffic guards. The sign says "Hasta que tu quieras a tu ciudad" which means "Until you love your city". I found out later that most of these traffic guards are between 16-22 years old but at the time I just thought they were really short!
The zebra traffic guards are physically pushing this public transportation minivan back and out of the zebra crossing!
While the light is green for traffic, the zebra traffic guards stand with pedestrians in the median and the sidewalk on either sides of Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz.
I think the non-zebra was a donkey but I'm not sure.

The signs the traffic guards are holding say "Pare" or stop on one side.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE it! I can't believe that it's been going since 2001. Apparently drivers' behaviors haven't changed enough to get rid of them.