diamond geezer

 Friday, July 12, 2019

Danske fodgængerovergange (Danish pedestrian crossings)

One thing I'm glad I read up on before I went to Copenhagen is the proper way to use a Danish pedestrian crossing. If there is one you must use it, and if it's controlled by lights you must obey them. Failure to do so could lead to a fine of 700DKK, that's a hefty £85, so jaywalking is something Danes never ever do.

Pedestrian crossings in Denmark are marked with broad white stripes and generally restricted to road junctions only. They're also wired into the traffic lights so you rarely have to press a button, they just switch when the main lights change. Most crossroads have a two-phase set-up (with pedestrians given priority over turning traffic), so there's not normally long to wait. But wait they do.

It's uncanny to see how perfectly everyone behaves. The second the green man vanishes and the red man appears nobody else steps onto the crossing, and if anyone dared try they'd get such looks. One good reason for strict adherence is the preponderance of cyclists, separately signalled in segregated lanes, which can make it hard to keep track of what might be heading towards you.

We got used to it. We learned to thread across town via successive road junctions rather than crossing midstreet. We learned to pull up short if the red man suddenly appeared, and developed an instinctive feel for whether or not we were going to reach the next green light before it changed. But we did finally snap on our way home at four in the morning, reaching a broad street without a single vehicle in sight and defiantly deciding what the hell. It felt good, but I doubt we'd have risked it had any Danes been watching.

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