Zebra Cross

What, exactly, do drivers think pedestrians are doing standing on traffic islands? In my case, this morning, I suppose that, as I was wearing my shorts and was a little pink in the face, I could have been a confused tourist who’d been sold an island holiday by a very unscrupulous travel agent, and I could simply have been standing there enjoying the morning sunshine. But I think, actually, that it was much more likely that I had just crossed one half of the zebra crossing, and was about to start crossing the other half of it, don’t you? So the driver who approached it without slowing and without preparing to stop was probably just being a dickhead who was hoping that if he looked like he was bent on keeping going I wouldn’t step out in front of him and force him to come to a reluctant halt.

Unfortunately for him, I was prepared to be a much bigger pain in the arse than he was. Once I’ve got one foot in the road he must stop – especially when he’s outside the Police control centre – but boy was he unhappy about it. The nose of his car was edged over the stripes in the road by the time he’d managed to brake, and he and his wife – they were both in their forties, old enough to know better – were glaring at me like Daily Mail readers confronted with an asylum-seeking single mother who’d frozen her embryos to further her career. I kept eye contact all the way across, worried that if I broke it for a second, he’d simply accelerate straight over me. Dogs, teenagers, car drivers: never let them see your fear.

Look, I know I was being obnoxious forcing him to stop like that and glaring at him all the way over (although I didn’t do what I wanted to do and drop a handful of change on the road and spend twenty minutes picking it up – I think he really would have killed me). But drivers who don’t give way to people on zebra crossings really piss me off. I don’t have many rights as a pedestrian, but that’s one of them. And all he had to have done was slow down as he saw me – no more than by a few miles per hour so that I could see he was prepared to stop – and I could have been across the road before he’d even reached it. Instead, I made him stop, he made me stop, and both of us went off with the edge taken off our Sunday morning. If drivers keep abusing zebra crossings, they get replaced by pelican ones and those are much worse for all concerned. Especially if pedestrians, annoyed at the loss of their nice zebra crossing, press the button every time they pass it just because, you know, they can…


15 responses to “Zebra Cross

  1. I like the idea of dropping a handful of change, i hate the behaviour of those drivers.

    I used to do that as a teen, lol whenever i walked by i would press the button just to annoy the drivers.

    you can tell i grew up in a family without cars

  2. I do agree with you. However as a driver I find that there are times when pedestrians can be just as annoying.

  3. Actually, pressing zebra crossing buttons as you pass by would do you no good whatsoever here in Wales – drivers will very often ignore the green signal for pedestrians to cross, even if you’ve started crossing. And glaring from them to the signal and back does you no good at all either. Like the idea of dropping change, though, but I think I’ll have to make it broken glass as I dash across. (we even have one green signal of a man crossing which has been deliberately turned on its side to show him running! )

  4. “Daily Mail readers confronted with an asylum-seeking single mother who’d frozen her embryos to further her career”

    Fabulous analogy! I love it.

    I hate drivers like this, they’re the same sort who get testy with cyclists too. Damn them all, we have as much right as them to use public byways. Well done for standing your ground. I always figure, that’s the best way as its more than their license is worth to hit someone on one of those things, so they have no option!

  5. I always find large lorries, and buses much more fun to try and stop on these crossings, get half way over then turn round and walk back to the start point scratching you head, this does make their blood boil, or if they dont look like they’re going to make an effort to stop carry on walking (briskly)… see the blue smoke from the tyres.

  6. I love it when people walk out on zebra crossing, means I can have a quick 10 second sleep.

  7. David – I hope you brake first

    tubedude – I try and make sure I can get to safety if they don’t stop

    AMP – figures in the paper today showed one in four London accidents are a hit and run. So I’m not sure their licence was particularly on the line, sadly.

    Grunt – my brother in law used to amuse himself in Wales coning off all the exits of a roundabout, leaving the entrances. They had to make their own fun in those days…

    Flighty – that would probably include me.

    Hannah – the other half once got told – by a tramp! – he was ‘a bastard’ for pressing the buttons and walking away. I would regard it as a badge of honour …

  8. What I don’t get is that in this country cars are only obliged to stop once you have started crossing – not when you are standing there waiting to cross. A lot of tourists stand waiting patiently at the crossing wandering why it takes them ages to cross because no-one is stopping!

    What also annoys me greatly is when they don’t even wait till you have crossed safely – no, they speed up again when you are two steps away from the curb. What if you stumble while they accelerate? Does it really make them miss an important meeting if they wait two seconds longer? I

  9. Beate – cars are supposed to approach them ‘prepared to stop’ and also not to rev their engines once stopped (See the same page of the Highway code). But you do have to be assertive enough to step out for them to actually have to stop – not a problem for me, (nobody ever accused me of lack of assertiveness) but it’s not just tourists who get stuck standing there for ages…

  10. I have this grip, too. ANd unfortunately, many cyclists seem to think they can ignore zebra crossing by whizzing around the pedestrian.

    My other pet hate is the cars (and cyclists) who turn into side roads, barging past pedestrians crossing. – they seem to foret thant in side roads, crossing pedestrians have right of way.

    My last and final gripe: cars who think cyclists cease to exist once they’ve overtaken them. I had a car overtake me and then immediately (without indicating) turned left in front of me to park up on the kerb. I had no chance of stopping in time, so I had to swerve. Fortunately nothing was behind me or I’d have been a big splat on the road.

  11. I think you should start driving again.

  12. I’m all for playing chicken with those (usually) Audi-driving bastards by stepping out in front of them. I also glare alot when they do stop. My H even went so far as to kick a car as it passed us at a zebra crossing – he was wearing steel toe-capped boots and 5 pints of lager and had no fear.

    What I object to is when I stop for a pedestraian who has been waiting while other cars zoom past at a zebra crossing and I get glared at, as if to say, ‘It’s about time one of you bastards stopped.’ – it’s not fair – I did stop.

  13. Blimey, this post seems to have hit a nerve …

    Babymother – I’m worried I’d be just as bad if I ever did – far safer just to whinge from the sidelines

    Lilo – I can see how that would be annoying – it’s quite hard to glare at the drivers who don’t stop … I do try to smile or acknowledge the drivers who do though if I’ve been waiting too long, it may come across as a bit sarcastic …

    Cookie – but cars are faster than bikes! why should they worry about a bike that’s behind them? … the fact that bikes are often faster than cars in city streets never seems to occur to the tiny-brained ones …

  14. Those drivers are exactly the same ones who drive 6 inches behind my car, trying to make me go faster, because, unfortunately, I’m adhering to the speed limit. Annoying, I know. I think the government described drivers like me as “rolling speed humps”, so I feel I’m doing my civic duty.

  15. true but look what happens to speed bumps: they get run over … it’s a slightly disturbing image, when you think about it.

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