Getting from one spot to another in Sydney isn’t as obvious as you’d think. I grew up near Chicago, which has a grid-like street pattern and is simple to figure out. New York is similar. If you’ve ever been to Paris, and gotten lost like I have, you know how bizarre and complicated getting from point A to point B can be. What do you mean the street doesn’t go through? Why? WHY???
In Boulder, the street name changes as you drive along it—confusing to all but the locals. In Sydney, I’ve been exploring the side streets most often (when they go through!) and I thought crossing them would be simple, taking for granted that pedestrians probably have the right of way and that cars would slow down if you were still in their way.
Only they don’t. They speed up.
I’ve never seen anything like it. It doesn’t matter if I’m alone or with Nicola or in a group. At first I assumed this was a coincidence and nothing to worry about. (Maybe I was just being passed by angry hurried drivers all the time!) But after a couple months and a little investigating, it turns out I’m not the only one who has noticed this constant threat of being run over. There is a roundabout near our place that I cross multiple times a day on foot. It’s considered a zebra crossing, which means it has a series of white stripes; cars are supposed to slow down as they approach, but instead they speed up.
I think it’s to provide added motivation to cross the street.
Another expat said it’s because of the way people learn how to drive here, she says, like a racecar driver. It’s not them being mean, it’s how they were taught, that they have the right of way.
Although technically they don’t. (I’m just saying.)
But knowing that, and knowing that they might be in the wrong but they are going to do it anyway, do I—as a pedestrian—slow down and chance it?
I’m still getting out of the way! I guess, in the end, I don’t have to fall in love with everything about Sydney. Some things take time to adapt to. It puts an extra pep in my step, that’s for sure!
(Side note about the feature photo: These “look” signs are painted on the ground at most crosswalks, indicating which direction the cars are coming from. Both ways in this case.)