15 May 2007

Traffic in Rosario: in flagrante delicto

You may remember my recent rants about traffic and car driving in Rosario. I'm going to show you a bit of what I'm talking about. The following pictures were taken as I walked some 10 blocks from the office today. I was specifically looking for confirmation of my theory that most drivers are either retards who can't park, or retards who won't park right.

Exhibit A, parked just around the corner of the Hospital Provincial de Rosario, beside the associated church:

I don't know what this guy was doing, but he left the car there for more than one minute. I know because I went past it, then thought about it, looked around, took my camera out of my backpack, waited until other cars were not present, and grabbed a couple of shots. There's nothing there. The entrances to the church and the hospital are around the corner. There's a supermarket in the corner opposite the one you see (not visible here, on the left), but that's not close. Anyway, the license plate seems to be CSB832 — and thanks to the (recently installed) marvels of technology, the Municipality lets me know that this particular car had five recorded traffic violations in 2004 and 2005, including parking in a forbidden area. None since then, so either the owner during those years sold it to another person, or learned how to escape detection.

Exhibit B, found a few blocks afterwards, is even worse:

In case you were wondering, that wreck of a blue box is a wheeled plastic garbage container covered in graffiti. This guy left the car (license plate VIF788) practically in the middle of the street. You can see there's easily half a metre between the container and the vehicle. Again, this car stayed there with the back lights interminently on for at least two minutes.

The fines for bad parking are highly variable, but I guess if the municipality paid me to walk around with the camera like this, they could afford my salary for free in one or two days.

Regarding this, the head of the Municipal Traffic Secretariat, Hebe de Marcogliese, was interviewed several times in the past weeks. The larger context is the study of what to do with the access of cars to the microcentro, i.e. the area of downtown that is most commercially and socially active. Until 2002, this part of the city was off-limits for private vehicles; then, with the economic crisis at its peak, the businesses of the central area asked and got a suspension of that restriction, and the microcentro was opened for everyone.

Today, with many new cars rolling and a growing economy, it's a nightmare. Cars circulating or stopping where they shouldn't, many bus lines along the same streets, and utility companies' repair teams blocking those streets as well, have turned the microcentro into a chaotic scenario. To those who want the area shut off completely as before, Marcogliese tells that, prior to any drastic measures, we have to comply with traffic rules. If every car was parked correctly and respected the other rules, it'd all much more orderly.

Moreover, the fines will have to rise. Right now, parking in the wrong place can get you between 70 and 800 pesos (US$23–260) if a judge has to decide; much less in other cases. Marcogliese mentions, almost in desperation, that some parents who block the traffic in front of schools at exit time, when faced by a municipal inspector, simply dismiss the problem: "OK, just give me that ticket and leave".

There's an expression, hijos del rigor, that describes the attitude of these people. "Children of severity" would be a translation. Most of us are hijos del rigor, like children who only do what's right when their parents tell them to obey under harsh penalties. Ask any Argentinian about this topic (that is, why we disobey laws that are in place for our own good), and s/he'll end up there eventually. Now, do I have to go draconian on your car?


  1. back lights interminently on = license to bend the laws of the universe.

  2. I've never actually seen anybody get pulled over in BsAs for a traffic violation, nor have I seen any parking tickets given out.

    In the US, many cities make mega$ from cars parked on expired meters, or overtime in time-restricted areas. Cars blocking driveways, streets, bus stops, or fire hydrants will usually be immediately towed to an impound lot. That's one way to make sure that fines are quickly paid, as is immobilizing vehicles with Denver boots.


  3. Oh how I wish that were true here. I happen to live in Palermo Soho (trendy area within Palermo Viejo) and when the area started to get trendy I had to install those pipes that go from the curb to the street to keep people from blocking my driveway. This worked great until the city came by and cut them off. I lived with this for about a year and called the police constantly because people would block my driveway. I had to put those pipes in again. I told our maid to call me when the city shows up again. I want them to explain to me why I was the only one that had those pipes cut back then while looking around at several neighbors driveways I noticed that they still had theirs.


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