On Cairo Traffic – Driving on the streets of Cairo

I don’t know what is happening to Cairo traffic; it is becoming worse every day, highly chaotic, and more stressful.

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I found that I am spending at least three to four hours a day driving, I get to my work already a nerve wreck and return home totally disoriented.

So what is happening on the streets? I throw myself everyday to a war, I have to fight my way through chaos, drive protecting my rights from the assaults of others, I mean other drivers and ensure that I reach destination intact. During that daily experience you shout curse swear get excited, become mad, move from being defensive to the offense and start do others as they do to you, attack and force your way through. I find myself driven by an urge to escape the chaos and reach destination as fast as I can, to finally find shelter.

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The peak was yesterday October 21 driving back from Rehab where I dropped my boy to school the Suez road was halted I don’t know why, but the fact is I remained in my place not moving an inch for 30 minutes, once it started moving I found myself doing something my wife considered crazy, I blocked the way to a microbus driving in the wrong side of the road he tried to intimidate me by pushing against my car and saying this is none of your business. To tell the truth this is my business because he has intruded on my right side of the road.The good part was that someone joined me and we were two against one, he gave up and turned back to the right side of the road, this reminds me of something I read in a book about strategy called belling the cat: the questions that the author stated were:

  1. How can relatively small armies of occupying powers or tyrants control very large populations? 
  2. Why is a planeload of people powerless before a hijacker with a gun? 

The problem arises from the fact that the first mover will accrue the entire price and will the hardest hit, but his bravery will mobilize others to move. The story of belling the cat demonstrates how difficult it is to obtain outcomes that require coordination and individual sacrifices.But what happened, although I cannot consider it bravery, can fit under this concept and I was joined by some frustrated drivers who thought of this law breaker as one reason for them being stuck in the traffic. Unity makes force is absolutely right and two or three against one made him withdraw, it was not a physical fight but an emotional one.

I find it very frustrating that people think of getting their way by stepping on others either by going in the wrong direction against the flow or deciding to change lane hitting you maybe, which is another story that also happened to me on that same day on that same road the Suez road.

At the height of Rehab there is a police check point on your way back to Heliopolis, which requires cars to line up in one lane, which will mean that everyone will pass through in order, if the flow in is higher that the flow out of the point cars start packing laterally and start to force their way into the lane, It happened to me a Toyota Corolla driver tried to do it but I resisted his attack the result was that our two cars touched but I had my earned precedence, luckily this touching did not leave marks on my new car.

I am having real questions how is driving affecting our personalities? I personally think that I am becoming more aggressive, more nervous, I feel less the joys of life, I enjoy less outings as they include driving, what I once loved I hate today, and I mean car driving.

cairo-traffic4.jpg 

The pictures included in this post were all found searching images on google under cairo traffic on the following link:

http://images.google.com.eg/images?q=cairo+traffic&gbv=2&ndsp=18&svnum=10&hl=en&start=0&sa=N

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12 Responses to “On Cairo Traffic – Driving on the streets of Cairo”


  1. 1 engy ramzy November 1, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    hello Dr.Rafik,

    I belive that driving affects my personality too especially that I drive for more than 6 hours per day . I have noticed all changes you mentioned in this article being aggressive ,nervous and now I hate driving more than anything else (almost)

  2. 2 Marise Farag November 4, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Dear Dr. Rafik
    First i wanna tell you that i totally agree with everything you just said i drive for almost 8 years now i started chic in driving, never switched lanes without telling, stopping for all walkers so they can cross the street name it everything CHIC. Now, I don’t care i learned from drivers in the street that if i make a sign of moving left or right rather than being respected and letting me pass they will ruch to stop me from doing it. Forget about me being a girl on the wheel which i think it’s concidered as a mistake on egyptian streets everybody tend to annoy ladies just for being ladies.
    Yet when i use to go to college i loved driving all the way on Kornish street at 7 am it’s great weather , streets are barely empty where i enjoyed driving while listening to my favorite music. I wish those days would come back and i think i’m still driving holding on to that memory.

  3. 3 rafiknakhla November 4, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    I have reached a point where having to go out and having to drive is a very heavy task. I am thinking about how the streets will look tomorrow when I drive my son to school will I be able to make it on time to work or not?
    My father tought me to drive at the age of 12 I used to love it but now it is really a nightmare. I only enjoy driving when I am in Italy or France, I usually rent a car and enjoy driving there.
    Will it be an enjoyable experience again in Cairo?

  4. 4 MOHAMED ELGENDY November 5, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Dear Dr Rafik,
    I think the main reason of this crowdeness is that we have a short term view planning as roads and bridges built very tight and in the same time the market of cars in Egypt realizes growth year after year.yoy asked A queastion what’s the effect of driving on personalities? But I have another Question : What ‘s the effect of personalities on driving?
    In other words,I keep realizing the behaviour of persons and their way of driving,you may see that person who has aggressive personality,Crossing the road in high speed with no attention to his mirrors.
    Other person who has obssessive character,will stop suddenly because he felt that the previous car on a ditance of 10 meter may stop.
    Another obvious example is That with Females who show abnormalities in driving according to thier mood.
    you can see also the complainer who sees himself only right and others actions and drving are wrong.
    Unfortunately You can see the driver personality who cares about his way only and others may wait him till his majesty arrives his place .

    etc,etc,,,,,,,,,,,,, a lot and a lot ,what you Think?

  5. 5 rafiknakhla November 5, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    Mohamed
    your comments on personalities and their driving are sound. however today we went beyond that and as I already said we are in a war that repeats itself everyday. You cannot behave properly and drive as it should be because it si going to be as swiming against current we are affected by this continuous high level of tension

  6. 6 mohamed abdel raouf November 9, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    hi dr rakek
    i agree so much with every thing that u said
    i want to tell u that when i was in collage i was hopping o learn the driving but know i hate the the day that i learned the driving .it make agressive ,nervous. when i ride my car and start to drive i feel that i am transformed to another one not me with different personality.
    i think that there many reason from my opoion first increase the number of cars so much and the abscene of art of driving and respectation between the drivier in egypt

  7. 7 Ahmed Osman November 27, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Dr Rafik

    I may be a bit late, but please let me share some views with you on our traffic problem especially as you know my love for Transportation and my view’s on Egypt’s declining Transportation infrastructure :

    1- This is not a problem which just occured today,,,,,or just popped into our faces, its a problem predicted by the JAICA (Japanese Aid) in their report published in 2001, where they predicted Cairo’s road network to reach gridlock (stand still) in January 2008 based on the growth rates predicted then.
    2- Growth rate in Cars in enourmous, cars licensed between July 07 and Oct-07 reached 85,000 and staggering 70% increase on the same period in 06. Cars exiting the network in the period are only 2,100.
    3- Simple rule of thumb says: the more you build roads the more traffic you get,,, therefore build no more new roads for the next 5 years is the answer.
    4- The 25 year rule should apply, any cars manufactured before 1982 should be out of the road network. If people are socially unable to pay for new cars, the government should provide such long term loan schemes.
    5- Taxis have to have a maximum life of 5 years (even for black and white cabs). Hurghada have such rule,,,,i dont see that its difficult to have the same in Cairo,,,,,cabs are an image for tourism, business and even for us as Egyptians.
    6- Cairo Underground Line 3 should be implemented NOW with a crash schedule of 4 years instead of 8.
    7- Mass Transit should be implemented….high speed rail links between 6th October and New Cairo and Central Cairo.
    8- With all the above being implemented, we do not need the “lovely” policing we see on Cairo streets which impeded traffic, lets go to the simple GREEN-YELLOW-RED automated signals….we’re civilized enough to understand them.
    9- Traffic Police again should stop the smart tactics of “Lagna or Kameen” which slow down ring roads and block bridges such as El Moneeb during rush hours just to collect peanuts…..people’s times cost more!
    10- Back to basics again, people should learn to drive in lanes, zig zag driving causes accidents which cause traffic jams, if people drive in lanes, we will create longer traffic queues travelling at higher speeds, and hence you get from A to B quicker.
    11- Parking problems, downtown, Garden City, Mohandiseen, Zamalek, Maadi, Heliopolis, Nasr City, everywhere, should be solved, let the Private Sector make some money out of it and solve a problem.
    12- Finally, we don’t need a new Capital, we dont have to kick all government agencies out of the city, we can do it simply if we want to…
    Sorry, if i bored you,…….but i am writing this after spending 2 hours getting from Garden City to Mohandiseen!!!

  8. 8 rafiknakhla December 1, 2007 at 11:25 am

    Dr. Ahmed:
    words of wisdom coming from an expert. I totally agree with the 25 years rule it will clear the streets from cars that have been consumed, it will also help the air quality by withdrawing poluting engines from circulation.
    What is needed is a stronger presence of police to enforce the traffic code no turns without giving a sign, no change of lane without a sign etc…
    Lagnas act as a clot blocking the flow of the traffic so instead of contributing to the flow they block it.
    In the absence of decent public transportation people will depend more and more on private means. we need also to adopt the idea of pooling and sharing one car for more than one person

  9. 9 Ehab El shenawy December 6, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    according saying ” spoke to knowen” we can change this in Cairo to be ” drive to knowen” There is no doubt that driving in cairo change our behavior and make us very agreesive.

  10. 10 shady makram December 15, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    dear Dr Rafik:
    this problem are going to maintain forever till we all decided to work beside our home ,then sell our cars ,then buy a toktok.the problem here that the car crowided become toktok crowded ,then we all have to say(wa rabna yostr) from toktok crowded.

  11. 11 Alfred November 25, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    i would like to know how much to buy one of those toktoks & if its cheap why not a smole family not buy one so will easy the problem the car crowided.

  12. 12 dondos January 4, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Egypt,s traffic is a clear indication to how uncivalised this country is.


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