Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A few peculiarities of Riyadh traffic - Impression #5

You may have read my post on Creative U-turning. That is certainly one of the more obvious oddities of Riyadh traffic. But oddities and peculiarities by no means end with U-turns. Here are a few more items of interest.

There are no 1-way streets. Signs suggesting otherwise are decorative only and can be ignored.

About 1 in 20 cars does not turn on its headlights at night. This includes taxis and even police cars.

Police cars, on the other hand, often drive down the street, at normal speed, not apparently in pursuit of anybody, with their colored lights flashing. Perhaps they do this to add a colorful, festive quality to the traffic.

All drivers add to the festivities by a constant tooting of horns as well. No reason is needed for a good toot. Just feel free to express yourself. Don't like the color of the red light? Try tooting and maybe it will change. Actually, it works every time if you keep tooting long enough.

About 1 in 4 cars has multiple dents. I'm told that no one drives in Riyadh for more than 1 month without getting in an accident. I intend to keep taking taxis as long as possible.

This may be of special note for my female readers. If you should find yourself walking down the street here in Riyadh, you will, no doubt, be honked at by many passing cars. It would be a mistake, however, to assume these honks are intended as crude comments on your figure. In fact, they are just passing taxis checking to see if you want a ride. This town is absolutely crawling with little white taxis and that's how they let you know they are available. It's a great system actually, once you get in the habit of ignoring the honking when you don't want a ride.


  1. Can you import these taxis in SF? No way to find a cab past 8:00pm!

  2. Sounds like a festive, colorful, tooting place indeed!

  3. And here I was all ready to hop a plane just to get "tooted." That doesn't happen often enough here :)

  4. Joanne, I'm not entirely convinced you'd want to be tooted by the people I've seen driving these taxis!