In New Zealand, it turns out that those wielding the deadly weapons have the right of way. In Canada, the soft, exposed, un-shielded pedestrians have the right of way and those riding around in steel-encased, high-speed vehicles with fuel and explosions in their belly take responsibility, sit back safely and allow the pedestrians to cross on the green light.
According to Bill Hicks, similar to Canada, “the pedestrian right-of-way law” is in Los Angeles. In his movie Revelations, he says, “Only in LA does common courtesy have to be legislated.” New Zealand sure could use some of that legislated common courtesy. Instead of the legislated right to intimidate and use pedestrians as targets for repressed emotions.
I walk a lot. It’s complicated enough weaving through all of the blocked sidewalks and intersections of construction in Christchurch. Lately fight or flight instincts fire up when I have to step off of the sidewalk. It has been may times that motorists have driven by at high speeds inches from my body, honking, swearing, flipping me off. New Zealanders are “laid-back,” they say. Well, not when it comes to proving to pedestrians that motorists own the road and pedestrians should wait as long as it takes for them to go about their business.
I was told that the issue is that New Zealand is not a litigious country. No one will get sued for hitting a pedestrian so “stay out of their way,” I was told by a city planner.
If a car hits a human it is still manslaughter or assault with a deadly weapon, right?
This has not only happened when I arrived at a green light and walked. But also when I have arrived at a green light, pressed the button for the pedestrian signal, received a ‘do not cross’ hand, waited until the car light turned red and then finally both signals turned green. And motorists have still driven through dangerously spiting the pedestrians.
I smile and wave back at them to show that I am a fellow human being. They might not see it now, but I hope they’ll remember on some level some day.
I have found that the safest procedure for crossing the street is during a red light (when the cars coming from behind you aren’t turning through your trajectory) or pedestrians can simply cross between intersections. It goes against everything I was taught as a kid, but I guess that’s life.