Jaywalking in Germany

The stare I received as I quickly tried to get to the other side of the road in Germany in 2012 was so piercing that I’ve not forgotten it until this day. And it took a few of these unwelcoming stares for me to realises that I was being frowned upon for crossing the road when there was a red man. Is it really a big deal? Well yes. If you want to fit in with the locals, then do not jaywalk, it’s that simple. You stand out like a British person who doesn’t like a cuppa. Also me.

I received these initial stares when I was living in Flensburg, a small town in the very north of Germany and I’d almost assumed it would be different when living in Frankfurt. It’s a major German city and there’s a quicker pace down here, but apparently not. People just stand and wait. And wait. And wait. Until the man turns green, even if there’s no car in sight and then everyone crosses in unison. Lovely. Nothing like sticking to the rules, eh!?

Jaywalking just isn’t a hot topic in Germany, simply because no-one does it. In contrast  to England where it’s never discussed because pedestrians seem to own the road and believe that every car should stop for them, regardless. In England, the response to successful jaywalking is similar to  ‘Ooh! that was lucky!’ compared to Germany where it’s more ‘Hmm, are you stupid?’ So stupid that people genuinely shout at you as you do a swift walk across the road instead waiting an few extra seconds (or I’m sure it’s sometimes minutes) to be welcomed by the green man. It’s kind of like the pusher-inners in the queue in England. I mean, we are far too polite to say anything (most of the time) but you just know that absolutely everyone is thinking “OMG they just pushed in!”

But honestly, after such a fuss being made about jaywalking, and even the possibility of being fined up to 10 EUR it seems ironic that cars are allowed to turn right, even if the man on the approaching road is green. When you are actually allowed to cross, you still run the risk of being knocked over! But hey, who am I to question the rules!?

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