Jaywalking Abroad

To Jaywalk or not to Jaywalk? That is the question!

The answer to that question should probably be a resounding “NO!” But I’ve got to say that, for me, it may or may not depend on the city. I say “may or may not” because I’m a law abiding citizen who would never (admit that I might) break any law in any land, no matter how ‘minor’ the offense.

Now that that’s out of the way . . .

In my never ending quest to not look like a tourist, one of the things I do when I get to a new place is watch and copy what the locals do. When I approach a curb I, of course, look both ways before crossing, stopping if the pedestrian light indicates that I should do so. Then I wait to see what the locals do. But I don’t copy just any locals. I copy the grown ups. Kids still think they’re invincible and will attempt to cross a motorway on foot. So I look for people mid-thirties and over. We usually tend to be more sensible. That is, when we’re not busy quitting our jobs and running away to Europe. But I digress.

If the grown ups cross, I (may or may not) cross, if it’s safe. If it’s just the kids, I hold tight. Every city is different though. In Zurich, there’s no need to use any of this kind of judgement because drivers will pretty much come to a screeching halt if you’re at a designated crosswalk. Zurich is just that kind of city. In the UK, I definitely mind the signals. I do it mainly because I can never remember in which direction the cars travel. And just when I think I’ve figured it out, I find myself almost being run down on a one way street. After spending a few weeks in Paris, I learned that if one were adventurous enough to Jaywalk, which intersections in my ‘hood were safe enough to do so. Here in Berlin, I’ve noticed that people don’t Jaywalk even when the coast is clear. I’m sure there are lots of exceptions. It could also be the part of town I’m in. Either way, when I see people stopped, I stop too! I mean, how would I explain having to call back to the States for bail money because I got locked up for . . . JAYWALKING?!?!