Everyday life NZ

How to cross the road and stay alive

Easier said than done. If you ever lived in the country where they drive on the other side than you’re used to, you know what I’m talking about. Coming from the good old continental Europe where we drive on the right side of the road and where I spent most of my life so far, I automatically look left and then right when crossing the road. Back to New Zealand I know in the back of my mind that I have to do exactly the opposite. The problem is that certain things in our brain works like an automatic procedure. You know what you should do, but you won’t do it and not because you don’t want to. It takes time to get used to it. After few months here I think I got a bit better and in 9 out of 10 cases I look first right and then left. It’s probably still good idea to get a good life insurance though.
In New Zealand are those ‘usual’ pedestrian crossing with striped lines where pedestrian have right of way. Which doesn’t mean that some rushing drivers trying to make it in the last second on the green light won’t stop in the middle of the crossing. And there are also so called ‘courtesy’ crossings where pedestrian doesn’t have the right of way. You can often see signs saying ‘Caution! Motorists have the right of way!’.
Courtesy crossings, courtesy for both drivers and pedestrians. How to make it through town on your feet when 90% of crossings are courtesy crossings? Well, I have to admit that after waiting five minutes trying to cross the road I might get little upset, but otherwise I wasn’t bothered by it too much. Rules are rules, especially on the road.
Until one day … when I end up in the middle of courtesy crossing waiting for traffic to pass on the other side and met there this guy with crutches trying to cross the road. He looked at me, gave a sad grin and said: ‘This is crazy, uh?’. He was right. He could hardly walk, but no one would let him go. And all the drivers seen him very clearly as we were on that little island right in the middle.
My experience here is that no one ever let me go on the courtesy crossing. You simply have to run for your life in most cases. Back in Europe drivers seems to be little bit more friendly when it comes to crossing the road. Even on the places where pedestrians don’t have the right of way my experience is that in most cases they would give way to pedestrians. Again, based on personal experience, I might be the lucky one.
One fun fact … in Europe I remember if I was wearing skirt or dress, drivers, of course mostly guys, would give me way nearly every time. The shorter dress/skirt, the higher chance. Here? It doesn’t matter what you wear (especially women). I might be standing there in my swimsuit or even naked and I can’t imagine that anyone would notice.
I completely understand that drivers have the right of way. But if I see elderly people, someone disabled or mother with a child, I believe that it would be nice to be courteous driver and give them way. Few seconds won’t make a difference and smile as thank you can only brighten up your day. Courtesy, that’s what it’s all about.