Caution I Brake for Pedestrians

I was going to say that St. Louis, compared to a lot of US cities, is pretty easy to walk around. In the downtown at least there are sidewalks and even pedestrian crossings – pedestrianism, while clearly a minority activity, is fairly well catered for, possibly under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But that was during the day, when the whole city was more or less deserted. The roads are wide here – six to eight lanes of traffic – and the pedestrian lights timed more for the convenience of the cars than the people. I’m a pretty nippy walker but found the green man only appeared just long enough for me to cross if I hurried. Fine if there’s nothing coming. But it appears that there’s an important rounders match on in St. Louis tonight and the city’s filling up.

As dusk fell, I was walking the two blocks back to my hotel, blamelessly carrying my brownie and my pint of milk so I could have something in my coffee in the morning that had come out of a cow and not out of some sort of industrial process. I reached the crossing just as the green man flashed up and started hurrying across. At the same time, all the cars on the side road that had been queuing up to turn left got the chance and did so, right into my crosswalk. The fact that I was also in the crosswalk, with mere nanoseconds to get across something the width of the M25, was irrelevant to them. The first car steamed past me as though quite prepared to drive over me or through me if that meant making it to the game on time. The prospect of spending the rest of the evening stranded in the middle of eight lanes of traffic loomed. For the second car, I summoned my best British steely resolve – honed through years of Zebra crossing abuse – made eye contact with the driver, and stepped in front of it. It slowed, reluctantly, enough to let me pass. On the side street, the same thing. The fact that I had the light meant nothing to the turning cars – as far as they were concerned, I was in their way. In fact I’d guess that half of them had barely noticed I was there and trying to cross. They certainly didn’t think it incumbent on them to stop.

Between a third and a half of Americans believe in UFOs and alien abductions, apparently, which I find odd. Because they certainly don’t believe in little green men …


5 responses to “Caution I Brake for Pedestrians

  1. That last paragraph makes me realise why so many Americans are like they are!

    I’m enjoying these on-the-spot entries. I hope that you’re having a good time, but remember to change out of those fluffy slippers before going out!

  2. I find it hard to believe that any of the individual Americans I meet believe in these things, so I wonder where the half to a third are? They can’t all be in Arkansas …

  3. I think, in the US, you can turn right through a red light if you think it’s safe. Like a filter arrow, but without the arrow.

    May the green cross code man be with you…

  4. In fairness (even to car drivers) since that one night, all the other cars turning on red have patiently waited for me to cross. Must have been the ball game …

  5. Pingback: Crossing Continents | Town Mouse

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