Have you ever tried to cross the road

Pedestrian lightsHave you ever tried to cross the road in the more rural areas of Malaysia? I have. It feels like that game where you have to guide your character (who’s riding a bike/scooter/something) down a road filled with many obstacles and you have to avoid everything, only that you’re on the “INSANELY HARD” level and you die the second you touch something else, even if it’s a hairline crack in the road. And there’s no “play again” or “restart” button. Makes one really appreciate of those pedestrian lights they have. And it dissuades one from jaywalking.

If you travel a lot, you start to notice some pretty cool things, such as each country’s own design for the “stop” and “walk” signal and the different colours they use. For example, in Hong Kong, the “stop” light is a red man who’s just standing, and the “walk” signal is similar to the American’s signal’s, but it’s green instead and is “walking” in the other direction, i.e. facing left. In Tokyo, they use two different lights like a traffic light instead of using one light to display two different signals, and their human figure has clothes on and is wearing a hat (I kid you not). I guess they wanted everything to be as proper as it can be. As for the US, there are actually several variations of the pedestrian light. The most common I see here is the Portland orange outline of a hand held in the “stop” pose, while the “walk” signal is a lunar-coloured outline of a figure walking towards the right. Sometimes the signals are solid in shape, so not outlined. Sometimes they’re even accompanied by a timer; how very thoughtful. Just to let you know whether you can make it to the other side without getting squished. Sometimes the signals are simply “WALK” and “DON’T WALK”. I never really understood the design of that one; what if a poor non-English speaking tourist wants to cross the road and gets run over by a car instead? Well, I guess if there are cars zooming by, he/she can safely assume that the sign that’s up is “DON’T WALK”. But still. Signs are supposed to be as universal as possible for a reason!

At least someone invented these signals, or we’d all become very agile and good at dodging projectiles travelling at 50km/hr (31mi/hr). And we’d all be pancakes waiting to be scraped off the road … or maybe we’d adapt and develop elastic bones and amazing reflexes. Darwin, please don’t prove yourself wrong if these wonderful signs are inexplicably removed!

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