Zebrastreifen, pedestrian crossings and passage piéton

Zebrastreifen, pedestrian crossings and passage piéton

discover legal has company bikes, not company cars. Riding my bike to work this morning through Hamburg city got me thinking about pedestrian crossings and how differently they are used in different countries. You may laugh, but I think it somehow reflects the culture!

To make it simple, let me tell you about my experiences in 3 countries: UK, France and Germany.

England: „Stop, look and listen“. A saying that has been instilled into British children by generations of lollipop ladies (and men), so still today (even at the ripe old age of 50) I stand at a pedestrian crossings and – stop, look and listen, before I cross the road. A ritual of caution.

France: If I am standing at a pedestrian crossing in “belle Paris”, a car is approaching and I think “It’ll stop” so I start walking…. I would, in my opinion, likely be risking my life or at least a shake of the fist and being shouted out through the car window. In France I think there must be an unspoken understanding that cars may not necessarily stop… So you need to play a game of patience.

Germany: Trust in rules. I know a family in Hamburg, who taught their children: “You just walk up to the zebra crossing and keep walking, no need to look left or right, the car will come to a halt. Pedestrians have priority over motorised vehicles”…. I must admit it isn’t an action I would recommend to my son, but you do actually often see people just start crossing the road as soon as the pedestrian light turns green, without actually looking if the cars are going to stop. So does this reflect the reflects the German commitment to order, precision, and a strict adherence to traffic regulations?

Hmmmm, judging by the number of speeding fines that come through our letter box at home, there does seem to be some flexible interpretation of certain traffic regulations in German households…

So what does that imply to me about the culture? Have I gained a deeper understanding of three European countries by looking at the mundane zebra crossing, or did I just have a giggle on my way to work…