As a motorist, I always give way to pedestrians. But the tardy response from pedestrians infuriates me since they stroll across the road. As a pedestrian, I always cross the road in a hurry because I know that the motorist is polite enough to give way.
Why do people cross the road in slow motion? I’ve found that such behaviour is not isolated to a place, a country or a continent. It’s more of a behavioural issue.
Here’s an explanation
One sketchy explanation I came across is that people with little power sometimes find ways to have power over people, even for a moment. More like providing bad customer service when the customer is of a higher standing or taking an adversarial attitude towards any figure of authority. I don’t know how true that is.
I can understand the slow walk if it’s an older person or someone suffering from a debilitating illness. They certainly can’t be fleet-footed. In such cases, no motorist would mind waiting a little longer.
Motorists are obligated to stop for pedestrians in most places. At traffic signals, people can take ample time to amble across so long as the WALK light remains green.
Pedestrian traffic lights vary from country to country. In Ireland, the sequence is red, green, amber and red, allowing people to decide how fast they must cross. If pedestrians begin to cross at the end of green or the start of amber, there is less time, and they have to walk more quickly. In the UAE, the lights are red and green, and people must speed up when the green light starts blinking. So is the case in a lot of countries.
Undesignated crossings are different. Ideally, people should not cross at such places, and it’s illegal to do so if there’s a pedestrian crossing nearby. They can be fined.
Pedestrians have the right of way
On roads without designated crossings, pedestrians are at the mercy of motorists. Most drivers yield, and it’s only right that they do since pedestrians have the right of way. Walkers must be mindful of that and make haste in crossing the road. Or else, they are showing utter disregard for the courtesy extended by motorists. A motorist irritated by the pedestrian’s attitude is unlikely to stop next time around. That’s a pity.
I’m not saying that all motorists give way all the time. Some are impatient. Some are rude. Some even refuse to look at the people waiting to cross. I have been honked at by agitated drivers for stopping my car to allow people to cross the road. It’s like I’ve done a crime. Like I have delayed them badly.
Just walk briskly
Come on. All of us are in a hurry. So are the pedestrians, who are vulnerable. They are totally at the mercy of motorists on roads without zebra crossings. So, every motorist has to be considerate enough to allow them to pass. After all, what does a minute’s delay matter?
The problem arises when pedestrians do not return the courtesy. It’s rude to sashay across the road when a driver stops the vehicle to give you passage. Have a heart. Hurry across so that the motorist can be on the way. That’ll leave the motorist feeling glad about having given way, and it will encourage them to do it again.
You don’t have to dash across. Just walk briskly. A smile or a tiny wave of thank you would be even better.