Be aware of where you are!

The first thing which shocked me the most when I was walking around Frankfurt (Oder) was that they don’t have many pedestrian crossings. I know Berlin like the back of my hand and I never noticed such a situation, sometimes I’d even say in Berlin there are too many of them and it takes a while to cross a big road because of the traffic lights which change very quickly and without any warning. By the way, Berlin’s pedestrian signals are quite unique because they’re different for each side of the city, East and West. I think it’s the same in the whole country but in Berlin it’s the most significant, especially near Reichstag where within a super-close distance you can see both of them. Germans call the East figure an Ampelmännchen and make funny souvenirs with him, you’ve probably seen some of them.

berl

West vs East

(source: https://bin.snmmd.nl/m/rn2ygemwc667.jpg)

But back to the topic, on my way to university there are many roads and zero zebra crossings so I was extremely confused about what to do. When I got there, I asked my friends about this and they told me that it’s OK to cross the street wherever you want but when you ignore the red light (if there’s one), you may be fined 5€ or 10€. The main rule is then that you have to give way to cars and wait for a good moment that won’t cause a dangerous situation.

In Poland it’s a bit different. There are many zebra crossings and you have to look for them when you want to get to the other side of the road, the only exception is when there is none of them within 100 meters distance. The fine for crossing the road not where you should do it is not big – 50zl (around 12€).

What’s important, in Poland when you enter a crosswalk, you have the right of way and all cars have to yield to you unless they want to get 10 penalty points and 500zl fine (120€). German drivers usually feel too comfortable on Polish roads what can lead to many serious accidents because Poles are used to not thinking about anything else when they’re on a crosswalk.

Every country has unique traffic law so my advice would be – check it before you go abroad and just know where you are.

(I’m still a bit nervous when I’m driving a car in a different country and I see police absolutely EVERYWHERE – now you know my biggest fear.) 😛

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13 thoughts on “Be aware of where you are!”

    1. There are still many fatal accidents which are caused by drivers who forget that sometimes they are pedestrians too… Yeah! Some cities change them for example near operas to look like a piano keyboard which is so cool. It’s a regular one in Warsaw, the capital city: http://bi.gazeta.pl/im/77/c5/14/z21782391V,Przejscie-dla-pieszych-przy-Dworcu-Centralnym.jpg and the cool one: https://d-nm.ppstatic.pl/k/r/67/ac/4c7f4bdb3cdbb_o.jpg?1420066800

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  1. I like that Poland is safe for pedestrians, but also draws the line for both pedestrians and drivers with the fines. In your experience, have you found people obeying the rules more?

    Here in Canada, the pedestrian has the right of way when the crossing light is on. But of course people cross anywhere, and there’s no fine. Whatever gets them across faster. So while I do support the safety of pedestrians when it is their right of way at crossings (because there is always that one car that manages to cut us off to make a turn), sometimes there are pedestrians who think they are invincible and that they ALWAYS have the right of way no matter the situation. And then it’s not only about getting hurt, but traumatizing a driver who may be a good driver. So it would be nice to also implement some kind if penalty for pedestrians too… but of course people will complain. Anyways, I agree with your post. Very thought-provoking and educational. 🙂

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    1. Thank you very much, it’s so nice! 🙂
      The safety of pedestrians was always extremely important to Polish government but unfortunately it still doesn’t mean that there aren’t many pedestrian accidents. But being honest, even one accident in this case is one too many. People tend to be more careful when it comes to pedestrian crossings which is great; most of the accidents are caused by people who don’t care about fines, are somehow distracted or under influence. So I think there’s no effective way to prevent it… But it’s always worth trying.
      You’re right, it’s too risky for Canadian government to think of such fines for pedestrians but maybe as soon as people realise it’s for their safety, they’ll understand.

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      1. Yeah, accidents with drivers and pedestrians will continue to happen as long as there are people who are in a hurry to get somewhere and/or make poor decisions – ie. alcohol, drugs, jaywalking in the dark wearing dark clothing (this has happened twice near where I live because some people think a few steps to the crosswalk is too far). It can’t 100% be stopped, but at least deterred with fines. At least the law is fair in Poland with fines for both pedestrian and driver.

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