Society & Folk
JAYWALKING IN DÜSSELDORF
Although many Germans also jaywalk, crossing a street in Düsseldorf to this day still reveals a discipline that is seldom experienced elsewhere. When the red light is showing at a pedestrian crossing, pedestrians mostly wait for a green one. Even if no traffic is passing. Police have to intercept those that cross and other people glare or comment at those not setting a good example. Peer pressure at its finest.
Known as the Highway Code in the UK, such a code of conduct exists in Germany too, called the Strassenverkehrsordnung. An exciting, life-saving set of instructions, they are drummed into children by parents in their persistent attempt to rescue them from finding out how humans and moving objects interact.
Yet jaywalking was born with the invention of the wheel. Planners in every town in every country build crossings and invest in lights, whilst legislators proudly package rules and regulations that are more or less enthusiastically followed.
On a lighter note: When asked his age in an interview for radio, apparently the infamous Bob Hope responded that he had just turned 80 but, when he adds to that, the time he has spent at airports, he was actually 82. This anecdote can be plagiarised and adapted for Germans who are able to stand patiently for excruciatingly long periods at a red light on completely empty streets.
Your publisher’s belief is that it is better to teach offspring to prioritise watching out for cars or bikes and think for themselves, rather than mindlessly stare at red lights. But I’m a foreigner. Yet some statistics do prove it true that less accidents happen in other countries.
Possibly a reckless suggestion to impatient expats, where no responsibility is accepted: Those who find it impossible to adapt, should take a look around before crossing. See if there are children, parents accompanied by youngsters, kids in prams and elderly or frail people who might thoughtlessly follow into passing cars. Or police officers! If not, then pedestrians may wish to feel free to take life and responsibility into their own hands. By the way, the fine for the infringement is as surprisingly low as so many others in German law.
Please be especially careful when pedestrian crossings include tramlines. Lights can be confusing, fast approaching trams are slow in stopping. Unfortunately accidents do occasionally happen.
By Vincent Green, Jun 23 2020
Hopping on a bicycle, to discover quieter city districts and nearby villages can be enjoyable and most rewarding. Bike paths weave their way across most of Düsseldorf, along the banks of the Rhine and on to outlying regions.
A great way to get to know Düsseldorf is to take an inspiring and rewarding walk, allow impressions to cause a pause, interact and allow details to remain more memorable. Admiring quaint side streets, strolling the promenade, the riverside or numerous woodlands bring joy to the soul.