Reporters on the Job
• Safer Streets? When correspondent Isabelle de Pommereau arrived in Bohmte, Germany, to see for herself how traffic would flow through the village after it had removed all traffic signs, sidewalks, and stop lights from its busiest street, she wondered just how safe it would be – especially for the village's children.
"My initial reaction was to say I wouldn't let my kids go out on their own," says Isabelle, a mother of three. But after spending the day there and seeing how kids safely waded into traffic – and cars stopped to let them cross – she was convinced that the plan, called "shared space," was child-safe. "The trick was that rather than train kids to obey traffic lights, one had to tech them to be careful at all times."
She admits this approach to driving and traffic management will be tough for many Germans to accept. It is, after all, a nation where rules are appreciated and car culture has deep roots.
But, she observes there is a growing pedestrian and cyclist movement that is beginning to change attitudes. They even have their own lobbyist groups, Isabelle says. "But it's going to be hard to break the automobile's dominance in Germany."
• A Slam-Dunk: Staff writer Scott Baldauf arrived at the NBA's Basketball Without Borders event in South Africa uncertain about the focus of his story. At first, he was drawn to the men, the all-pro NBA stars teaching the African boys. "But then I saw a basketball court full of girls. All their eyes focused on a medium-height American woman," he says. "She was an Olympic Gold medalist, a pioneer in the WNBA. She talked about a time when Americans laughed at the notion of women basketball players. Unlike the boys' event, this was the first time Basketball Without Borders was focusing on young African girls. For a father of two daughters, that was a slam-dunk story."
– Michael B. Farrell
Middle East editor