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Monday, January 31, 2011

For visitors : Driving in Bratislava and around

Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, has ~500.000 habitants at the area of ~370km2. To drive through the whole city on the longest route within normal hours (outside of traffic peaks) takes 30-40min.

What to expect on the road :
There is a bypass around most of the city, which is full in the peak hours. In the peaks it's  faster to drive through the city. Outside of peak hours, it helps a lot. It's relatively new and fine quality surface, 3 highway bridges over Danube. Speed : max. 90kmh.

On all other roads expect various surface quality. Especially after winter expect holes in the road, patched after a while with low quality patches expected to be destroyed in  next winter and to be patched again next spring. Invoice for good quality patch, delivered low quality patch. Welcome to Slovakia and it's constantly sustainable development. Of course payed from taxes.  Do not drive too fast, otherwise you destroy your wheels.

In spite of this, there are not too many traffic jams at all. In comparison to Budapest or Prague, the traffic jams here are pure luxury.

If you want a bit adrenaline driving, go outside Bratislava on the highway direction Trnava / Zilina. The originally 2 comfortable lanes are now 3 narrow lanes with max. speed 110kmh + 70m obligatory space between cars. The police is measuring both things. If someone overtakes you and comes in front of you less than 70m, than you have to break otherwise it's your fault not holding the 70m and you will be fined. Yes, your're right, it is stupid. Fortunately it is only 55km and than normal highway.

Drivers in Bratislava :
It's slowly getting better but there are still thousands of people without any clue about defensive driving or thinking about the next crossroad. There is still a very long way to become decent drivers. First step is to become decent people in general, which is still often not the case.

Slovakia did not fulfilled the EU obligation to lower the number of deaths in car accidents for 2010. It has many consequences, for example the policemen evaluation change (from amount of penalties given to amount of accidents happened, finally !). Everything seems to start now in 2011, let's see, what it brings.

Police : 
Police does not have respect here at all. There are still many corrupt and/or very stupid traffic policemen. The "protect and serve" philosophy does not exists here. Therefore drive carefully and do not break the traffic rules. If police stops you and you did not break any rules, do not pay them anything in cash or with credit card. Insist on cheque.  They have problems with foreign languages and are stupid, so it often helps to speak only english until they resign. The max speeds are 50kmh in the city, 90kmh on the bypass, 130kmh on highway outside the city.

Parking :
There are some parking garages in the center. Their location and status can be checked here.  Try to park on safe and bright places. The car stealing rate is decreasing constantly, but is still high. The best place to park are payed garages or hotels. The most stolen brands are Skoda, VW and BMW. As in all other cities take care of where you park and that you dont let anything valuable in the car. 

If you driving a Saab and see a local Saab driving around, we are waving or blinking with lights to each other :)

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