Crossing the Street at 23rd and L is a New and Lively Experience for Cubans on Foot

People cross on instinct: they wait for a brave soul to take the plunge and then everyone follows. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 19 July 2023 – The flow of traffic in a busy area like El Vedado in Havana is fast and constant. Anyone who tried to cross the street on Calle 23 this week, where the pedestrian traffic lights were all off, knew this only  too well. The angry drivers’ car horns blare at those who, on the edge of the pavement, try to guess the right moment to cross.

Eight sets of pedestrian traffic signals out of action on Calles 23 and L has unleashed a traffic chaos. On Wednesday, an elderly lady in the crowd waiting to cross asked whether the lack of red/green signals was down to a power cut. “No, there is electricity señora. You can see how the traffic lights for the cars are working ok. But the pedestrian ones are all broken”, someone answered.

For months the people of Havana have witnessed the warning lights breaking down. First one goes, then another, then a few weeks later a stone hits the glass of a third one. And no one repairs the damage.

Finally, this Wednesday, every single one of the lights that are supposed to regulate the pedestrian flow on 23rd and L went off. Now people cross by instinct. It’s common for people to wait until some  brave soul takes the plunge and then everyone follows. At other times the cars slow a little and the pedestrians decide it’s the moment to lunge forward.

As yet, there has been no police officer assigned to regulate the traffic while they fix the lights. The younger people are in a hurry, they just run and lose their fear of the traffic after a few attempts to cross. But the older people and children are always left behind, waiting.

Translated by Ricardo Recluso


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