CUNY Macaulay Honors College at Baruch College/Professor Bernstein
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Pedestrian Pressure

My philosophy when it comes to walking around the city (or anywhere else for that matter) is that if you wait for the green “walk” light every time, you’ll never get anywhere. This mentality has made me a joke among friends who all seem convinced that I wait for traffic before crossing the street. Just as staying in your room all day has come to be known as “Pulling a Renee” amongst mutual friends, “Pulling a Liz” seems to have come to refer to taking a kamikaze stumble of sorts across a busy avenue.

As I’ve grown older and more reckless in my street-crossing I’ve come to recognize an amusing pattern among my fellow pedestrians. Walkers of any gender and age feel obligated to cross the street if someone else begins to. Level of traffic, time of day and location are irrelevant. If I begin to inch forward, so do a handful of people opposite and behind me. Jaywalking is the ultimate form of peer pressure.

I am a master of clumsily successful illicit street crossing, but not everyone is as vigilant and coordinated when it comes to safely making it to the other side. In this sense I sometimes feel guilty crossing the street when I’m not supposed to. This is because I’ve come to notice that when one person jaywalks, all others around said person feel obliged to do so as well. I will boldly step forward, preparing to weave through a line of slowly moving vehicles and others nearby will begin inching forward. It is as though they are unsure of what to do, the red hand is up but the crazy girl is walking anyway.

Jaywalking can be dangerous and in general is pretty juvenile. Maybe I’ll stop eventually but for now it’s still a thrill.


1 annatraube { 12.16.10 at 11:57 pm }

This is funny. Crazy girl is walking anyway! hahah!

2 annatraube { 12.16.10 at 11:58 pm }

P.S. Good observation.