What happened when the pedestrian crossed the road?

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On my morning run in a small, nearby suburb I discovered that a new pedestrian crossing has been built as one large speed bump. The white stripes on the bump almost number the stripes of a Zebra.

The reason for this bump is that the previous pedestrian crossing with only white stripes wasn’t enough to stop cars going straight through the crossing with disregard for the pedestrians.

In this case, the pedestrians are students that attend a private college who use this crossing all day long. They have to walk from the car park across this pedestrian crossing to get to the entrance of the college.

I’ve seen motorists hurtle across the speed bump, especially small vans, who won’t give way to pedestrians. It’s as if the motorists are pedestrian blind. They can’t see the pedestrian crossing or worse, they don’t care a fig about stopping. Just how high must the speed bump be built to stop them?

The problem with motorists is much larger than this. Many won’t give way to pedestrians under any circumstances. It’s not only where pedestrians cross the street but in car parks and shopping centres. In one shopping centre I visit the motorists race in and won’t even stop when you’re trying to reverse out of a parking space.

A lot of his has to do with the culture of motorists. I was once in Sweden on a Saturday morning sight-seeing in Stockholm with my friend Erik. We were about to cross the street with oncoming cars and I stopped and couldn’t do it. It’s was too scary for me coming from a country where motorists don’t behave like this.

Erik assured me that I just had to step into the street and the motorists would slow down or stop. I couldn’t believe it. I took a deep breath and stepped into the street with a feeling that my end was near. It was like standing at the edge of a cliff and stepping off. I stepped into the street and lo and behold the oncoming cars slowed down and stopped. I couldn’t believe what I had experienced.

Culture is a very stubborn thing. It sticks like superglue. It’s not just motorists. Organisations have difficulty trying to change their cultures. Families too. Because they’ve always done things one way, they won’t deviate. Institutions are locked into their culture. Often with rituals that harm innocent people. Other institutions have cultures that lead to a slippery road that eventually spells their downfall.

Until the culture of motorists changes, which is highly unlikely, cross the road at your own peril. Be vigilant. Giant speedbumps with white stripes may help slow down some motorists but many will still rush across them with disregard to people.

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