Cities: Michael Cunningham on New York, on pedestrian-car interaction

New York wasn’t open to the hopelessness and lost purpose that drifted around lesser places. Here, people drove through red lights. They walked cursing in front of cars. – Michael Cunningham, A home at the end of the world, 1990.

Currently travelling around northern Europe, I also notice the different ways cars treat pedestrians. In Hamburg cars knew their rights and asserted them. Helsinki was like home in Brussels – as a pedestrian you use body language to ask the car to stop at the junction; they do so; you acknowledge; they acknowledge back. Here in Polotsk the cars drive gently. They stop at the yellow-and-white zebra crossings because it is the rule, without requiring any of that palaver.

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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