Zebra Crossing, Serengeti Style

Blimey. I know I was complaining about the pedestrian crossing lights at Vauxhall Cross yesterday, but I wasn’t expecting them to switch them off altogether. The lights were out coming and going today, and it’s a tricky junction at the best of times. Particularly coming out of the station where the traffic comes under the railway line and approaches the crossing on a blind bend. The technique this evening seemed to be for everyone to gather on the curb until enough pedestrians had built up to form some sort of a moral imperative. Then we waited, watching the people on the traffic island, who could at least see what was coming. Once one of them was bold – or foolish, or homicidal – enough to step out into a gap, then we all surged across, working on the assumption that they wouldn’t run us all down. The effect is similar to those wildlife programmes where the migrating zebra have to cross the crocodile-infested Zambesi, but with fewer stripes.

Anyway, that is definitely the last time I say anything disparaging about the lights on that particular junction. Oh, and drivers? If you’re approaching a crossing andthe lights are out and a pedestrian decides to cross rather than spend the rest of their life on a traffic island – don’t honk. They’ve got at least as much right of way in the circumstances as you do.

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9 responses to “Zebra Crossing, Serengeti Style

  1. I think you’re my super hero. Do you have a uniform?

    They’re busy murdering our towns road system and causing havoc. Can I put a bat style signal in the sky for you to come and blog them?

  2. This used to happen outside of Cannon Street Station. Cars would pass until a critical mass of pedestrians formed, then they would cross until the flow trickled out and cars would take over again. The main crossing has been replaced with lights now, which is no fun, but there is still a watered down version of the Old Way of doing it further up by Jessops.

  3. AMP – beware – that would mean unleashing the awesome power of this blog…

    TMC – the trick is to try and eke out the flow of pedestrians so the cars can never move again. I believe Princes Street in Edinburgh works on that principle

  4. Does anyone remember that abominable “traffic lights tree” in Canary Wharf somewhere around Westferry Circus? Is it still there? I remember reading about it and popping along to have a look. If anyone – let alone a driver – could understand which lights they were meant to be looking at, they’re a better man than me.

  5. The pedestrian crossings in Aberdeen mostly beep and flash, but you have to be sprightly to get across the road in the time they give you…

    Down there in that London, do you cross diagonally at junctions? Or is that just an Aberdeen thing? I’ve never felt brave enough to do it anywhere else, but up here it’s normal practice…

  6. Matt: when in doubt, let the pedestrians across, would be my advice

    Sarah – do you mean at the ones where all the traffic stops and you can cross two roads at once? We have some of those here – a bit scary if you get caught in the middle when the lights change, but otherwise very handy indeed

  7. Matt – that traffic light tree is a sculpture, innit – it’s not meant to direct traffic.

  8. Yes, that’s what I meant – cross roads and t junctions. Of course, if the council just got on with and pedestrianised Union St we wouldn’t have to run diagonally across two sets of four lanes with kamikaze bendy buses…

  9. Ah, those are my favourite kind.

    You have bendy buses in Aberdeen? I thought it was just a London affliction

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