Left of Way

During my crazyland Boston visit this week, I am just struck by how different the pedestrian/car interaction is here from Chicago, or even Champaign.

As I understand it, the point of “right of way” is to clarify who should yield to whom. Being polite is suboptimal, because that just leads to confusion when people can’t decide who should go first.

In Boston, traffic tends to

  1. Fail to notice pedestrians
  2. Assumes pedestrians will ignore traffic lights when convenient

The latter gives pedestrians, in the absence of immediate traffic a sort of “left of way” when entering intersections here. Sure, it’s technically jaywalking, but it strikes me as unproductive not to do it. I’m just a little more conservative about it than the natives…






2 responses to “Left of Way”

  1. Paul Avatar

    I think I like how China handles pedestrians – they just don’t care, so jaywalking is at your own risk. But it’s like Frogger, so much easier to calculate. For example, a car will move at the same speed regardless of you being in the driver’s lane or not.

    I always hate crossing four lane streets (two for one direction) with a certain situation. I have two cars approaching, the farthest lane car will past me first, but there is a third car in his lane and I cannot dodge in front of that car unless I’m already in the street with the closest lane. So, I step into the road and wait for the farthest lane car to pass, but he slows down. Now, I’m not sure how slow he’ll go, so I’m not going to walk in front of the car. But I cannot stay in my lane because a car will soon hit me and I cannot wait for him to pass by because now the car behind him is much closer and so my opening has been closed. So now I have to dart much more dangerously across traffic and three cars are mad at me instead of zero.

  2. Karl Avatar

    As a native Bostonian, I could never understand how San Francisco pedestrians will mill about a sidewalk corner waiting for a walk light with no cars in sight. After the light turns green and the first lot of cars take off, it is normally safe to cross before the next load of cars arrive.

    The only explaination I can think of is that it must be possible to get a ticket for jaywalking in SF, where I have never heard of anyone getting one in Boston.

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