Crossing Culture

July 18, 2012


There’s a game I’m forced to play with drivers whenever I walk across an intersection, and no one has the clear right of way. In America, I’ve noticed cars will dance with you if you try to cross the street: moving forward, thinking you’ll wait, seeing you won’t, moving forward anyway, being forced to stop or hit you. This kind of aggressive driving led me to adopt certain behaviors when out and about on foot.

Even knowing that drivers are (somewhat) paying attention to me as I cross, I don’t like the idea of a 2000-lb piece of metal being so close to me, only held back by a pedal controlled by an individual who may or may not be a complete idiot. That’s what I have to consider when I’m driving or walking close to the street: the idiot factor. For every driver who is safe and in control, there are ten who text or Facebook on the highway, don’t check for pedestrians when turning, and inch towards someone crossing the street in front of them because they believe it will move things along. It won’t.

I’m sick of it. Why should I put my life in the hands of a driver who may or may not even be competent enough to control his vehicle?

In America, when I’m approaching an intersection and I see a car traveling perpendicular to my path, I turn my back to the driver, keep my head down, and put my hands in front of me. Got that, questionable driver? I’m not crossing the street and putting my fragile self in the hands of your driving skills.

In New Zealand, drivers will ALWAYS wait for you. Even in anticipation of someone approaching a crosswalk, cars will stop and pay attention.

Next to Beijing, South Korea is probably the most likely place in the world to be hit by a bus or taxi as one is crossing the street. Although crosswalks are in place and used in all cities, big and small, it’s best to look right, left, straight, behind, and double check before even setting one toe out on a public street:

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