Mind Your Head

I stood waiting for my bus for ten minutes yesterday, next to Tlalpan, an extremely busy road. For ten minutes, before I realised that not only were no buses coming past, but no traffic at all. Sometimes I’m a bit slower than….well, the traffic on Tlalpan. I felt it was worth investigating why the traffic had disappeared though. And lo and behold, I found the cause. Many bridges in the city just don’t have any signage to tell truck drivers the maximum height. Probably not worthwhile to be fair. Signs, traffic lights, general rules and other road symbols are observed only on a voluntary basis. There aren’t many volunteers.

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  • P.S. Based on one of our conversations while I was there, upon reading your headline, I thought the post would be about the dangers of being tall in Mexico City.

    But in this case, I guess it only applies if you’re a truck.

    Saludos

  • Apparently we used to have the same problem on Storrow Drive, here in Boston, before I moved here. I’m not sure why the problem stopped, but I haven’t heard of it happening since I’ve been here, which is about 15 years now.

    There are electronic signs which supposedly turn on and alert you if you are over height. Scooting around town in a tiny, two-door sports car, I can’t say whether they work or not. There’s also the more old-fashioned signs which state the underpass height in black and white.

    But I’d imagine there’s a pretty nasty fine for jamming your truck into an overpass and stopping all traffic. Not to mention retribution from the owner of the truck. So truck drivers are pretty careful.

    Based on my own experience with traffic mishaps in Mexico City, I’m surprised your photo doesn’t have about 20 police officers standing around doing nothing.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA

  • Contrary to popular belief, the main distinction between developing and developed countries is not the level of per capita income but the degree to which State and society have been able to overcome and solve many coordination failures, many problems of public life that affect everyone but that no one is too bothered to solve.

    Road signs are an example. In spite of almost having the per head income of New Zealand, the DF has been unable to ensure that roads have adequate signs to protect drivers and pedestrians, reduce traffic, and make sure people arrive to their destination. Sure, they’ve got many bureaucrats, some of which are clever and have college degrees. But they can’t make things work. They can’t put up signs, they can’t pave roads properly, they can’t fix treacherous sidewalks, they can’t detain and penalize unruly drivers who violate traffic laws.

    That’s underdevelopment to me. Not the lack of wealth, but the lack of coordination in a society through the observance and enforcement of norms and rules that create harmony and foster well being.

    • Fair comments. Although it has to be said another reason dollars per capita isn’t a great measurement is because that figure doesn’t show how well spread around (or not) the wealth is.

  • The next step usually involves letting some air out of the tyres in a desperate attempt to get through – have you seen that?? I was once on a school bus taking kids to a volleyball match and the driver tanked it through an underheight bridge ( against my recommendation!!) subsequently peeling back the roof like a tin opener on a sardine can – noone batted an eyelid!!

    • Sounds like you went to a tough school! Was it one of those places where they’d search kids on the way in for weapons…and send them home for their own protection if they didn’t have any?

      🙂

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