Hugh Rants: The Zebra Crossing Conundrum

Hugh Coates

This next gripe of mine is I’m sure quite familiar to the majority of you. As an impoverished student sustaining himself on the thoroughly underwhelming pay of a waiter, the use of motorized transport is a privilege. As a result, I am often necessitated to join the walkways of Great Britain.

Taking to the footpaths and pavements is in no way demeaning to me nor is it that much more of a hindrance to my day-to-day life as it currently stands. In fact, there is really nothing much to complain about when it comes to using one’s legs to propel yourself from A to B…well, actually there is just one thing.

Pavement congestion of an inner city is logical, you can’t help it. Homeless people practically tugging at your purse strings as you shuffle into Primark doesn’t get under my skin. I can even restrain myself when getting cut-up by a kamikaze cyclist. There is, however, just one aspect in the wanderings of a pavement-traveller that truly astounds me. I am referring to the strange social conventions surrounding those familiar black and white walkways that allow us to safely navigate across a road. Zebra crossings.

My complaint has nothing to do with the way in which you take you’re life into your own hands when navigating these black and white death traps. I have come to accept that you cannot simply expect a car to stop at a Zebra crossing, this is modern-day natural selection which I am merely adapting to. What I do fail to comprehend, is the the ambiguous motorist-pedestrian relationship at this point in our journey. Here we have a recognizable feature of the Highways, one that, if the narrow pass in my theory test has taught me, gives pedestrians the right of way over road users and requires them to stop by law. So why then do some people, including me on occasion, wave to thank these apparently charitable road users for abiding by the recognized laws of this country and indeed of most others?

It is something the more you think about, the more ludicrous this action becomes. To pluck a most extreme comparison, it would be like walking down the high-street, stopping random people and publicly applauding them for not assailing you. Why do we thank people for something they are supposed to do? There just isn’t a reasonable explanation for expressing gratitude towards someone for not maiming you with there vehicle as you saunter down to One-Stop. Maybe people just like saying thankyou.

To date, my most far-fetched conclusion is that there is a widely held idea of a very immediate form of karma. That it has now become mandatory to thank road users as some sort of courtesy to the next pedestrian, and failing to do so may result in said motorist going on a demonic rampage running-down frail old ladies on Zebra crossings across the land.

I am still very confused by this behaviour….