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.
West vs East
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.) 😛