Roadside Manner

Despite the extra tiny lanes, the parking every which way, ubiquitous roundabouts, crazy curvy roads, and intense traffic…drivers in Scotland are sweethearts (to other drivers). You never have to worry about waiting too long to turn out onto a road regardless of the never-ending stream of traffic…because someone will always let you out. A driver will stop in the middle of nowhere and hold up all of traffic just to let you out…or you make a u-turn…or for you to attempt to parallel park in an impossibly tiny spot. Every day I wave to or receive waves from at least 3 other drivers. Or if someone does something outrageously sweet (absolutely stupid and nonsensical in Chicago driving), you flash your emergency lights at them 2-3x. Since we’ve gotten here, I have only had to use my horn once (some really old man went the wrong way down the parking lot alley and STOLE my parking space that I had been patiently waiting for with my binker on. He got honked at and screamed at. Jerk!). On a typical day driving in Chicago I would use my horn at minimum twice. MINIMUM! And don’t even get me started on how regularly I flipped the bird. Sure people here make mistakes and cut you off at a roundabout, but hey, that’s okay. They waved! They flashed their emergency lights! They meant no harm. How sweet.

All of that goes right out the damn window when you’re on foot and interact with a driver. I assume (from friend’s tales and my own observation) that the same goes for if you’re on a bicycle. I am far too terrified from my daily near-death experiences running to even try to ride a bike. I am trying my best, but right now it seems as though I’m destined for at least a little bump from a car. Aberdeen (and perhaps all of Scotland, all of UK?) is not pedestrian friendly. That’s putting it lightly. They are pedestrian angry and want to punish us for using our two legs. The only time I can escape a run without a near incident is when I run along the Deeside Path on my 3 mile loop. But I do have to run about 2 blocks to get to the path and through one roundabout, which opens up the possibility of getting hit- either crossing the roundabout or someone edging out of their driveway.

This is all I can see 1 foot before a driveway entrance.  I'm sure they see none of me.

This is all I can see 1 foot before a driveway entrance. I’m sure they see none of me.

So that’s an actual issue. The fact the every driveway and off road pretty much has either some type of gate or wall, or huge massive hedges, or both. So if you’re pulling out you literally can’t see if someone’s on the sidewalk, and as I’m approaching I can’t see if anyone’s pulling out. So that typically results in at least one near-bump a week. Otherwise it’s seemingly just cars wanting to run you down. They are turning from behind you onto the street you’re crossing and they just accelerate and blow the horn. Not like be considerate, realize it will take me approximately 3.5 seconds to cross the little tiny street you’re turning onto and just wait. Or have any consideration that it’s really not practical for me to come to a stop at every single street and turn around to make sure there’s not a car waiting to turn. I now have 2 roads I cross, that even though they are small and only 1.5 lanes to turn into/from, I stop at because more often than not someone is trying to run me down there. But really can’t do that at EVERY single street.

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Can you see the 2nd white car? It’s super steep. The 2nd car was being very nice and giving me the space to run around behind the black hatchback.

It’s hard enough when a car is coming out of said streets because these streets are always at a sharp uphill incline. So I run around behind the car which is difficult because I’m running along the sharp downhill…and then I have to give the car an extra wide berth since it’s presumably a stick shift and will shift backwards as soon as it starts to go. Then if there’s school children or other pedestrians taking up the sidewalk, I’m forced to go into the road for a couple strides. It’s already been mentioned how small the lanes are and no gutter or anything…just lane then sidewalk.

So all the situations are like a stacked deck against runners or cyclists. But then you add in that there is this vendetta that drivers have for us. It seems they go out of their way to muscle us over, honking and yelling. Just overall being real inconsiderate assholes. I admit I’ve made errors with the timings of lights and such.   And in Chicago I took for granted I had all the light systems down and knew when I could sneak through or not. But in general, when crossing a small road or ally, the pedestrian gets the right away. And always, the more powerful mode of transportation should step down to the weaker.  Bikes trump runners, so when I’m on a bike, I make sure not to take a runner down.  When I’m on a car, I give cyclists as much space as possible.  But apparently, in Aberdeen that is not the case.

So all in all, it’s pretty terrifying to be a runner in Aberdeen. But as a driver, you’ve never been surrounded with more considerate people to share the road with.

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