1. A few years ago my wife visited a friend in Seattle. They needed to cross the street and were about halfway along a longish block. No traffic; my wife just walked across – or started to. Her friend shrieked at her to come back. She ran back, thinking there was some oncoming vehicle or something. “My God, you’ll get a ticket!!”

    Sheesh! Who’dathunkit??


  2. My observation in comparing NZ pedestrian behaviour to that in the UK is that although we are just as likely to cross the road where there isn’t a crossing, if there is a crossing most people here seem to stand there dumbly waiting for the green man even if there isn’t a vehicle in sight. Yes I know that’s probably what the law says, and AT nag us to do it, but if the road is clear it’s just dumb.

    My view is that a crossing is simply a mechanism to force cars to stop to give you an opportunity to cross a busy road when you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. i.e. compliance is compulsory for drivers, but pedestrians can ignore it if it suits them.

    1. “dumbly waiting for the green man even if there isn’t a vehicle in sight”

      Given the moronic phasing of pedestrian lights over here, that’s an apt description.

      Even if cars are in sight, the most common reasons why no cars are crossing the pedestrian crossing are:

      • all those cars have red light. I regularly see that at the Fanshawe Street on-ramp
      • obsession with green left-turn arrows. That is partially a safety feature, but often there are no cars turning left.

  3. And the stupidest part of NZ’s pedestrian-crossing policy is that traffic is generally allowed to make a left turn through the “pedestrian-cross” phase at intersections. What is this but “Jay-driving” officially sanctioned.

    Oh, and the other stupid feature that encourages jay-walking is the policy of having a lengthy time-lag between the pressing of a pedestrian-cross button, and the cross-phase initiating. In the UK the cross-phase begins immediately the button is pressed, then a timer acts to limit how soon a subsequent phase can be initiated. So over there, you press the button and cross straight away. Over here you press the button, get sick of waiting (typically in the wind and rain) so jaywalk your way across when you get a chance. Then the idiot lights change and stop the traffic, by which time there is often no-one left needing to cross!

  4. “Jaywalking is the name given to the act of crossing the road outside of a pedestrian crossing.”

    I’d always thought it was the act of walking at an angle to the kerb rather than straight across. If I remember rightly in the 1950’s the Auckland Council ran a safety campaign to encourage people to walk straight across.

    This was not long after they painted white lines up the Queen St footpath and passed a bylaw requiring people to keep left. (Pity they dropped that one).

    They dropped all this when they disestablished their own traffic department.

    Also doesn’t the road code make it illegal to cross a road within about 50 metres of a pedestrian crossing?

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