Stop, Look, Listen, Think! - Please be careful when crossing the street in Paris.
|5:27:52 pm on April 14, 2012|
While watching the news on Thursday evening, I was saddened to hear the report about an eleven year old boy who had been hit by a car while crossing avenue Gambetta in the 20th arrondissement. He was on his way to a fencing class with a friend and lost his life in the process.
For some inexplicable reason, I've gotten into the fast-paced Parisian habit of crossing the street as soon as the light turns red for the cars, even though it's still red for the pedestrians. Since I look like I know what I'm doing, people who have been patiently waiting for the light to turn green often follow my lead. Please don't!
Last Saturday evening, Stéphane and I were hurrying to meet the other Boston University Global Day of Service volunteers at Quai de Jemmapes. As the light had just turned red for the cars, we were preparing to cross the street like the man in the first photo. Fortunately, we weren't talking on our cell phones or otherwise distracted because we noticed that a car was approaching the intersection at a rapid pace. Realizing that it was going to hit the car in front of it that had already stopped for the red light, Stéphane and I pushed each other back onto the sidewalk away from the street. BAM!
According to official police statistics, 27 pedestrians were killed in Paris in 2011. 45% of them were crossing the street when the light wasn't green or were crossing in the middle of the road rather than at a crosswalk.