September 1, 2008

This is our regular column called Ask a Brazilian”, the idea being that you can quite literally ask a question of a Brazilian – for those issues you aren’t sure about but perhaps dare not ask someone else. It is meant as a bit of fun and answers should not be construed as expert opinion or the definitive reply on the matter. For that reason we ask you to please send comments and experiences in order to add to our replies.

Do those striped pedestrian lines at intersections have any meaningful significance in São Paulo or are they designed to better enable the drivers to line up their targets as they are desperately trying to get across the street?

— Don

Hi, Don,

I will answer your question by parts:

“Do those striped pedestrian lines at intersections have any meaningful significance in São Paulo…”.

Yes, it means “Run, Forest!”.

If “designed to better enable the drivers to line up their targets” or not we will never know.

But with 13 million people, 7 million cars and 4 subway lines, we can understand why walking on your feet in São Paulo requires a certain expertise. Drivers want to kill someone, pedestrians want to kill themselves. Both succeed, eventually.

Some exercises at home might be useful to keep safe:

1. Walk between the furniture, couch, table, everything. Just walk around. You can start doing this for 10 minutes a day.
2. Now, put some chairs in the way, spread some cushion on the floor, whatever it is that is big enough to represent a car, a motorcycle. Use your imagination, it’s your house, you’re alone. (If you can’t have a private moment ask the other person to be the Bus for you, it could be fun).
3. When you think you’re doing good, try faster. Get in shape, 20 minutes for a week and you’ll rule.
4. Now run. Run! Jump over the cushions, kick your bus-friend, and run. (Watch your toes in here, remember you can’t touch anything)

Are you finally fast, brave and thin?

Them you’re ready to be a pedestrian in São Paulo.



Are there any burning questions you have about Brazil, or other issues that you’re curious about, such as Brazilian culture? If so, send your questions to with “Ask a Brazilian” in the subject. We will forward to our Brazilian experts, and publish the best questions (and replies) on the site.

Previous questions in this article series:

Ask a Brazilian: Trash
Ask a Brazilian: Tiles
Ask a Brazilian: Headlights
Ask a Brazilian: Differences and Love
Ask a Brazilian: What Do the Police Do?
Ask a Brazilian: Contractor Frustrations
Ask a Brazilian: English Books and Brazilian Boys
Ask a Brazilian: Cold Cahaca
Ask a Brazilian: Interruptions
Ask a Brazilian: Travel and Security Concerns
Ask a Brazilian: Gestures and Toys
Ask a Brazilian: Hispanics or Latinos, and Duvets
Ask a Brazilian: Overbearing Sogros
Ask a Brazilian: Hotels and Bank Transfers
Ask a Brazilian: Swimming, Showers and New Year’s
Ask a Brazilian: Making Friends
Ask a Brazilian: Female Etiquette
Ask a Brazilian: Washing Machines
Ask a Brazilian: Picking Teeth
Ask a Brazilian: Lozenge or Candy?
Ask a Brazilian: Liberal or Jealous?
Ask a Brazilian: Truck Wheels
Ask a Brazilian: Tolerance
Ask a Brazilian: Screens
Ask a Brazilian: Brazilian Wax
Ask a Brazilian: Flashing Lights
Ask a Brazilian: Lemon and Limes
Ask a Brazilian: Shocking Showers

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