What’s your opinion on the safety of pedestrian crosswalks?

In UK they are pretty good and certainly useful in avoiding jaywalking. They are noticeable for the quaint “Belisha Beacons” that are a yellow ball flashing on a black and white pole – often with no traffic lights (that’s a Pelican Crossing). Best feature, they have a 20m zigzag either side which is a no parking area. This allows you to see whether there are pedestrians about to cross or not. Traffic has to stop if someone is on the crossing, or hasn’t left it yet; this rule is pretty much observed by everyone. So, pretty safe – probably a world beater.

In Norway crossings only have a blue sign to show they are there, not much use in snow (5 months of the year or more) as you can’t see the sign or the crossing. Never mind, Norwegian drivers know that they have to stop for anyone even looking as if they are thinking of crossing, especially as most Norwegian pedestrians just do a right angle turn and step off the pavement onto the crossing without looking. Norwegians are very law-abiding, probably because of the draconian fines that are visited on you (pay now with credit card please Sir/Madam), and you are supposed to know the law. As a driver there, you have one eye on the pedestrians just in case they try to commit suicide by jumping under your wheels (or skiing or skating under them). So, pretty safe. A world beater if all the drivers are Norwegian born and bred.

Malaysia: Most are fitted with traffic lights, but depending on where you are, the drivers may or may not take any notice of them. Crossing a red light is a Malaysian speciality, along with not moving off on a green one… Crossings are often obliterated by cars parking on them, or double parking on them. Always make sure you are going to be safe rather than cross in front of someone who looks like he’s not going to stop. If you are a Norwegian, you really have to take note of this! The cars may stop, but the bikes and scooters zipping up the inside may not, nor the taxi coming up on your outside, even though you’ve obviously stopped for a reason. If they don’t have traffic lights, there may be a crossing sign, or there may not. So, not very safe and not easy to see at times.

Philippines: Bloody hell, where to start? Pedestrian crossings are legion. People park on them, multicabs use them as a bus stop, they cross a six-lane highway jammed with traffic (with no central island per UK), so pedestrians have to weave through as best they can, always watching for the rogue taxi nipping up the outside ready to hit you. Traffic will stop if the pedestrian sticks his hand out palm up, so that’s a bit better than Malaysia. There are rarely signs showing where they are, they are rarely repainted so difficult to see (pedestrians cross anywhere anyway, even where there is a sign saying “No Jaywalking”), they are not lit at night, so in the blinding rain with heavily tinted windows, red and white lights from traffic blinding you, the crossing stripes not visible and the pedestrians inexplicably dressed all in black like ninjas – keep a wary eye out! So, unsafe, but everyone is careful – except taxi drivers, who have good brakes. You hope. Norwegians – drive everywhere, don’t walk…

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