Don’t cross – Mind the Americans
There are really many curious and weird things in the United States road traffic culture. But the most remarkable and ridiculous thing I noticed during my entire time in the United States of America was a
traffic light instruction for pedestrians. It definitely had not the exhorting intention like the German “Only cross at
green – mind the children”-sign. It was a totally serious tutorial for pedestrian traffic lights! It explained to the careful reader that one has to wait at the curbside while there is the red light. Steady white (the American green) – but in the instruction blue – means according to the text that one might cross the street now. But it advises you to be careful anyway. And when the light flashes red one should not start crossing the street anymore. Instead you should wait until the next phase of white light. And for the exceedingly justified question how to react if the light turns from white to red while crossing the street it gives you guidance as well: Just finish crossing the street. Eureka, what an insight! But the twin cities, St. Paul and Minneapolis, where I first time found those traffic light instructions are in other respects very progressive. There you will find so-called carsha ring lanes. These are lanes which only vehicles may use that transport multiple people. This ought to motivate for sharing cars in the traffic jam plagued inner cities. There is nearly everywhere traffic jam in America. And also, there are so-called skyways in the St. Paul center area. These are sheltered pedestrian bridges which connect the buildings and their stores. It is a great invention which separates pedestrian and car traffic. Maybe for this reason pedestrians forgot how traffic lights work and therefore need an instruction. These signs are obviously not intended for little children because they can’t read yet. But as soon as a child learns to read it should also be able to understand how traffic lights work. But maybe the instructions are there only for insurance purposes. Because it is well-known for what things one can be sued in the USA.
Update: In Singapore, I have now found something similar. However, you will be warned in Singapore everywhere of real and alleged dangers. Therefore, an instruction for traffic lights is only consistent:
Update 2.0: When you travel alot then you will realize that often the weird stuff is much more common than you think. Australians need a traffic light instruction as well. But in Australia the traffic lights are truely confusing. They switch to red even though they display that you still got 20 seconds to cross the street.
Update 3.0: Sorry Philippines, now I also caught you!
Update 4.0: Only at this Malaysian traffic light, a guide would be really worthwhile 😉
What do you think? What purpose do these instructions at many American traffic lights serve? Please write it to us below in the comments!