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Tumbit's take on Spain : Mr Grumpy

Mr Grumpy has lived and worked in Spain for 6 Years. He is self-employed and has a 3 year old Daughter that speaks better Spanish than he does. Despite the occasional moan about 'Spanish Bureaucracy' he enjoys the Spanish lifestyle and the warmth and friendliness of the Spanish people.

How To Classify Road Users In Spain
27 September 2010 @ 23:45

If there is one thing in life guaranteed to make me laugh more than watching a fat woman chasing a parasol down a beach on a windy day – it's driving on Spanish roads. Or, more to the point, watching how other road users conduct themselves on Spanish roads.

It seems that there are seemingly endless categories and sub-categories of misdemeanors that rile me more and more every day, and here are just a few of the widely recognised genus, classifications and orders that these people fall into :

Parking : This genus can be split into 2 seperate and distinct sub-categories :

1.)The “Park Anywhere” Parker - This road user holds a firm belief that double parking on a Dual Carriageway is part of the Spanish Constitution. Equally so, zebra crossings are considered as “Emergency Parking Zones”.

2.)The Touch Parker - This road user is able to park accurrately with the use of his front and rear parking sensors (Also known outside Spain as “ Bumpers “), and see's nothing wrong in shunting cars backwards and forwards to make his own parking space a little more roomy.

Stop-Starting : Many Spaniards believe that it is actually written into their Highway code that they are legally able to stop their vehicle in the middle of the street and at any time without the need for any hazard lights so that they can strike up a conversation with any pedestrian of their choosing. There is not a time limit on this, and anybody in a vehicle behind them peeping to get past is simply deemed to be rude and impatient.

The Cyclist : Whilst not actually paying any insurance or road tax in Spain, or even being required to take a Safety (or sanity) test, cyclists are bound by the law to cycle at least 4 abreast in order to hold up any road traffic behind them. Contrary to what drivers of other road vehicles may think , they DO “Actually own the road“ and pulling forward infront of cars attempting to turn left at a T-Junction is perfectly acceptable. Points can be issued against other road users who mock a cyclist attempting to walk in their footwear (which I can only describe as clogs), or questioning their sexuality by always wearing lumious lycra clothing.

The Farmer : Not so much of an annoyance to other road users, as of course the Farmer is entitled to make any living he can in a rural community. However, he may have some consideration for the frail and elderly wife that he has thrown into the back of the trailer towed by what I can only term as a “Lawn Mower“, and is rattling around the back with half a dozen podenco's , numerous sharp tools and a couple of buckets of Almonds.

The Pedestrian : What is it about people over and above a certain age that makes them want to walk in the middle of the road when a perfectly good pavement is less than 5 feet on either side of them ? Maybe it's a permit that is awarded along with the pension that other road users are not yet aware of ?

The Multi-Tasker : Whilst I am still struggling a little with the exact translation, I believe that the highway code states that the Spanish Driver must have no more than one hand on the wheel at any time. His other free hand must be used for either searching for, lighting or smoking a cigarette ; using the mobile phone ( regardless of whether a hands free kit is fitted – this can only be used when the vehicle is parked ) or gesticulating wildly with his kids on the backseat. In some cases he is entitled to do all 3, which is a sign of status, wealth and masculinity.

The New Driver : Drivers who have successfully passed their test and purchased their first car must first undergo a regulation haircut (Short and spiky on top, long at back - the kind of style that would have graced a 9 Year old in 1982) and make numerous modifications to their Seat Ibiza (The exact nature of the modifications are to the drivers choosing, with the exception of the Stereo – this needs to be of sufficient wattage and ampage to temporarily deafen any pedestrian passing by too closely).

The Hire Car Driver - Very rarely Spanish – more often than not English or French, they can easily be recognised (apart from the obvious sticker in the back window) by driving too slowly, almost in the middle of the road, and by turning corners too widely. Roundabouts also have to be driven around a minimum of three times and it requires at least 2 people to park the car. It was only 2 years ago that it was decided to stop the process of having a pedestian walking slowly infront of the Hire Car waving a red flag as a warning to other road users was repealled, but there are rumours that this could be re-introduced in the very near future.

The Micro-Car Micro-Cars are the ones that are seemingly entitled to drive down Motorways – Half on the Hard Shoulder and Half in the slow lane. During urban use they are often seen parked on the pavement, when not being overtaken by Motability Scooters. They are only ever used by Drivers who can not afford a proper pair of roller skates.


Please feel free to jot your comments below if you feel that I have left anybody out !

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Sue said:
27 September 2010 @ 22:47

Sorry to mention this but you have missed out an obvious category - niños cycling or (even worse!) skate-boarding on busy roads in the wrong direction: for example, the wrong way on a one-way street. As a pedestrian who doesn't walk down the middle of the street, although I confess to crossing the road between zebra crossings (after all that's what the locals do) I have learnt to look in BOTH directions before crossing ANY road.

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