mount_oregano: Let me see (Postage stamp)
(I recently obtained my Spanish driver’s license, which inspired this parody. The italics indicate genuine traffic law.)

Congratulations on receiving Spanish residency! You now have twelve months to obtain a Spanish walking license. This involves a theory test and a practice test, and your license will be recognized in many European Union countries with similar requirements.

While you may think there is nothing special to walking, Spanish laws and customs are distinctive. Special “andaescuelas” will provide the needed instruction (for a fee) and will take you out for practice walks (for an additional fee per session), during which you must wear a reflective green “L” (included in the fee) on your shoulder to alert other walkers.


Spanish citizens normally receive this instruction as part of their “bachillerato” education during ages 17 and 18. The 25% school dropout rate after age 16 explains a lot about what you see on the sidewalks of Spain.

Before you can go on practice walks, you must pass an official theory test (for a fee), which involves 30 questions. You must get 27 questions correct. The test is conducted at special regional centers on computers, and your andaescuela will let you practice (free of charge) on special computers at its school. If you fail your test, you can try again (for another fee). Here is a sample of the 15,500 possible questions (these are actually driving test questions):

1. How should you cross a traffic circle?
A. By the shortest means possible, even if it means crossing the road.
B. Walking in the direction to face oncoming traffic.
C. Walking around the traffic circle on the sidewalk or, if there is no sidewalk, on the shoulder. Correct.

2. A sign with a black silhouette of a person walking on a white background surrounded by a red circle means:
A. The roadway is for pedestrian use only. False. That would be a round blue sign with a white silhouette of a pedestrian.
B. You are approaching an area that is frequented by pedestrians. False. That would be a sign with a black silhouette of a pedestrian on a white background surrounded by a red triangle.
C. Pedestrians are prohibited from entering. Correct.

3. When walking at night outside of populated areas, a pedestrian:
A. Must walk on the left shoulder.
B. May walk on either shoulder, but must wear a reflective element such as a vest visible from 150 meters.
C. Must walk on the left shoulder and must wear a reflective element such as a vest visible from 150 meters. Correct.

Once you have passed the theory test, you have permission to practice supervised by a qualified instructor on public sidewalks (don’t forget the fee). Your instructor will give you guidance on how to pass the practice test, which is stringent.

The test will take place at a special regional center (for a fee), probably the same one where you took the theory test. An indoor course will involve about 20 minutes of walking. You may wear any shoes, although comfortable footwear is advisable. If you have special needs, such as a cane, wheelchair, personal caregiver, or seeing-eye dog, these will be accommodated. Tests are available in a variety of languages, but all the road signs you encounter will be in Spanish.

Among the many things to remember, here are some common mistakes:

• On an escalator, remember to stand to the right and walk on the left. Your examiner will tell you if you are “in a hurry” or “on a Sunday stroll.”

• When you approach a stairway, turn to face the stairway directly, not at an angle. Be sure to place your entire foot firmly on the riser. Do not walk on tiptoes or let your heel hang over the edge. Falling down stairs, even just two or three steps, is an automatic failure of the exam.

In construction zones, obey all signs and follow all detours in the sidewalk. Construction workers assigned to direct automotive and pedestrian traffic must be obeyed as if they were police officers, with corresponding penalties for failing to follow instructions.

Remember that you may cross anywhere on “residential streets,” which are marked by a blue rectangular sign that shows a pedestrian, a child playing with a ball, a house, a curb, and a car. You also have priority in “Zona a 30,” which are zones where automobile traffic is limited to 30 kilometers per hour and which are marked by a white rectangular sign with the word “ZONA” in black and a black number “30” surrounded by a red circle. At zebra-striped crosswalks without stop lights, pedestrians have the right of way over oncoming automotive traffic. Your examiner will expect you to know when you may cross a street and will expect you to cross with resolution if you have the right to do so. Excessive hesitation will cause you to fail the exam.

You are no longer required to walk to the right on sidewalks as if you were a car on a road, but it’s a nice touch.

As you can see, there’s a lot to know. Don’t lose heart if you fail to pass the first time because this is common. You may take the test as many times as necessary (for a fee each time). When you pass, you will receive a temporary walking license immediately and your official license will arrive by mail within four weeks (included in the fee, although any subsequent changes to the license, such as a change of residency, involves another fee).

Remember, walking is excellent exercise and Spain is a beautiful country, so once you have your license, put it (and all the money it cost) to good use. Happy walking!

— Sue Burke

Also posted at my professional webpage:

And check out this music, "I'm Walking," by Fats Domino
mount_oregano: Let me see (Picasso)

These days I’m studying to get a Spanish driver’s license. I drove for years in the United States, so I’m not worried about the behind-the-wheel test — but the written theory exam is killing me. Of the 15,500 possible questions, I will be asked 30, and I must get 27 correct to pass. And they’re hard questions, so I’m spending my free time taking practice exams. Here are some examples:

1) A motorcycle driver on a urban road must maintain a distance with vehicles at his or her side...
A. of at least a meter and a half.
B. proportional to the speed, width and characteristics of the pavement.
C. of at least one meter.

2) Is a motorcycle an automobile?
A. No, because all automobiles have four wheels.
B. Yes, because all vehicles that have motors are automobiles.
C. Yes, because it is a motorized vehicle that serves to transport people.

3) Pedestrians who use roller skates or skateboards...
A. must circulate on the pavement when they move faster than a human walking speed.
B. always circulate on the right shoulder.
C. are permitted to circulate on residential streets.

4) In sections of roads too narrow for two vehicles to pass, the vehicle with the right-of-way is the one that...
A. has greater difficulty in maneuvering.
B. is headed downhill.
C. enters the narrow section first.

5) In the absence of other signals, a green light in the shape of an arrow pointing down over a lane of traffic...
A. obliges the driver to remain in the lane over which the light is lit.
B. does not exempt the driver from the obligation to fulfill the general regulations about the priority of passage.
C. awards preference over all other vehicles.

6) In case of contradiction between street signs and traffic regulations...
A. the regulations prevail.
B. the most restrictive rule should be followed.
C. the sign should be obeyed.

7) When teams of animals, animals bearing loads, or livestock have to circulate on a road, they must do so...
A. on the right shoulder, and if there is no shoulder, on the right side of the pavement.
B. always off the pavement and the shoulder.
C. on the right side of the road as a requirement.


1) B.
2) C. This question involves specialized vocabulary, and I have to know it. What we would call an “automobile” in English (for example, a Honda Accord) is a “turismo” in Spanish.
3) C. “Residential streets” are a special class of streets. I need to know the classes of streets, too.
4) C. In the event of a tie, a 12-point list of rules determines who goes first. I need to memorize that list.
5) B.
6) C.
7) A. And here I thought I was learning to drive a car, not cattle.

— Sue Burke

September 2017

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