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Crosswalk Culture

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Walk/Don't Walk I was in Seattle over the weekend and noticed something besides a coffeehouse on every corner. The people of Seattle are very well behaved when it comes to crossing streets -- no one in Seattle jaywalks. I finally realized why I felt self-conscious crossing the street against the light -- I was the only guy doing it. Never mind there weren't any cars in sight. I felt like the whole city was looking at me disapprovingly, so I started minding the "Walk/Don't Walk" signs myself.

Then, on Monday, I landed in Los Angeles and noticed that the city is installing new crosswalks all over town. They look like handsome, red-brick pedestrian crossings, but it turns out they're fake. They're painted cement. I was happy to add to my file of strange Southern California facts. For a state whose main industry is make-believe, somehow it's perfect. But I'll tell you one thing: L.A. is not a city for jaywalkers. Drivers are supposed to stop the moment a pedestrian's foot hits a street. Sometimes they actually do. But my advice to you if you're crossing the streets of L.A.: Act as if you're in Seattle.


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