Wednesday, April 12, 2006
I couldn't squeeze past these cars last Monday, April 3, had to get off the sidewalk, a risky thing for someone with a stroller.
Got really mad, came up to the traffic cop standing nearby, next to Yushchenko's Secretariat fence, told him to watch how they park, ended up having a little conversation.
He can't do anything about it, sometimes he does come over to the drivers and tells them to get off the sidewalk at least partially, but they wave him off - they are busy. Usually, it's people from the offices located in a few buildings nearby who park like this. When something's up at the Secretariat, the cops have to clear the area, and they have problems with these cars even then - no one really bothers to pay attention to the plastic barriers the cops put up, they just drive over them.
Cops used to be able to unscrew and take away license plates of the violators - not anymore. Some law prohibiting them to do this was adopted two years ago - all over Ukraine, not just in Kyiv - so basically our traffic cops are just a decoration. A few months ago, we saw cars with their wheels locked - an equivalent of having your car towed away, I guess - but someone sued the company that was doing it and won, and they had to stop.
Traffic cops can't even fine violators - it is not illegal to park on sidewalks.
Not very illegal to drive on sidewalks, either: I asked the cop what would be done to a driver who hurts a pedestrian... either nothing, or a fine of 8 hryvnias ($1.50).
The cop by the Secretariat - a nice man, in his early 40s - hopes that the new mayor, Leonid Chernovetsky, will be able to do something about this mess - but for that to happen, all elderly citizens - thanks to whom the guy got elected - will have to start writing him letters, making lots of noise.
This is a picture from a few days ago, taken at Instytutska, around the corner from the Cabinet of Ministers and a hundred or so meters away from the National Bank.
When I walked there today, another, bigger, car was parked on the sidewalk, and I could see I wouldn't be able to pass between it and the green fence. A very young traffic cop stood nearby, so I decided to bitch about it to him, even though I knew it was useless.
He reacted as if he was just a passerby, someone who had nothing to do with all that car business. I pointed at the sign right above his head - parking violators would be towed away, no less - and he looked surprised, as if he'd never paid attention to it before. He said the jeep had already been there when he came to this intersection, so there was no way he could help. I asked a few more general question about the mess and his responses were all of the type 'Moya khata z krayu, nichoho ne znayu' ('My house's at the edge of the village and I prefer not to get involved.' I ended this conversation by wishing him to have his useless ass fired real soon.
It's very frustrating to have to live like this, but at least drivers let you cross the street here - they stop (most of the time) even when there're no streetlights. This is what sets us apart from Moscow and St. Pete.