Confused? Well, here’s why I think crossing roads in India is definitely an art.
On the One-Way Street
I’m not sure why they call it one-way, because there’s always traffic moving BOTH ways. To cross a one-way street, you’ve got to look BOTH sides for oncoming vehicles. What goes on in my mind when I’m crossing a one way street?’Look right. Look left.
Suddenly look left just to make sure you are sure. Look right again because the vehicles are actually supposed to come from there and you can’t cross when your last look was to the left. ‘ I didn’t know how much I got used to doing this until I was back in Singapore for a vacation, and my friend asked me why I was doing neck exercises just before we were crossing a one-way street. Yes, that was awkward.
On a two-way street
So if the one-ways turn out to be two ways, what becomes of the actual two-ways? Oh worry not; they are of some use too! They become the ‘Multi-Lane Traffic Street’. Here, there is actually no defined direction of traffic. It’s more of an ‘as you like it’ policy that they adopt.Here, there are alternate lanes for different directions of traffic. Sometimes, each lane has two rows of traffic. To cross these kinds of roads requires a lot of patience.
Experience in these cases count significantly. You have to wait till one set of the traffic stops, slide across each vehicle (mostly in zigzag fashion), then wait in the middle till the next section stops for traffic. This goes on till you reach the end. There is no clearly defined path, so you’ve got to have tact in dealing with this, lest you may not live to tell the tale.
The Four-Way Junctions
Usually these junctions have traffic lights, and there is supposed to be a timed flow of vehicles.Supposed to be.Blindly trusting the traffic light and crossing when the green man comes along is scoffed upon by expert pedestrians.
You still have to do the usual procedure of looking in all directions and giving a couple of surprise glances to every side to catch the vehicles by unawares, and THEN you can cross the road.Sometimes vehicles jump the red signal, ‘cuz you know, ain’t nobody got the time for that! Or they decide to take a U-turn because they think that the ‘No U-turn’ sign is just to add color to the street.
So even while you’re crossing the road when the green man is trying to walk too, you’re supposed to be looking in all directions! If it were possible for humans to rotate and travel, I think this would be where it would have been put to use.
If you reach a four-way junction and there isn’t any traffic light, the trick is to move away from the junction and reach a two-way lane that connects to it. Then you can implement point no. 2 to get to your desired location.
These add levels to the road.Why?Oh because what’s life without a bit of thrill?To cross a road filled with potholes, think of it as the dancing arena. Just like those dancing video games that used to be around.‘Left two three, right two three, slide two three, pique two three, hop two three, balance-on-one-foot-to-avoid-mud two three, leap-to-avoid-water two three.’If this isn’t considered art, I don’t know what is!
So sometimes, there are dividers that help to segregate the direction of flow of traffic.The one near my college has a metal fencing sort of thing. Since the idea of it is to prevent people from crossing over, naturally, there ARE a lot of people crossing over. It brings out the acrobatic tendencies in people while teaching them to also concentrate on the oncoming traffic. Sort of a multi-tasking training thing, if you ask me.
Crossing the dividers with no fences is quite simple actually. People find ways to challenge themselves when they cross these dividers by texting. It’s a fad that’s just started spreading around. That way, something as simple as this would still give them a sense of accomplishment.
The Zebra Crossing
Yes, yes, we do have them here. The lines may have faded a little, but nevertheless, they are there.How do we cross these?Oh no difference at all. The concept hasn’t fully been grasped yet so we just revert to point 2.Practice makes perfect.
Gauging the speed of the oncoming traffic
This is no joke. It takes a lot of experience to gauge in a limited amount of time and take a call whether to cross or not. Over the years, this evolved to crossing regardless of the speed of vehicles approaching, and to decide with what speed the pedestrians would want to cross with. It varies from a casual walk, to brisk jogging, to a sprint.
The catch? You’ve got to learn how to think despite the angry honks that surround you all the time!Intense training, if you ask me.
Matrix Style Crossing
This form needs to be mastered. It basically is how well you avoid the random spits that shoot out of vehicles, or the litter that seems to fly out from nowhere (usually from a passing vehicle). Over time, because of experience, things seem to come to you in slow motion, and you’ll be able to swerve yourself away. Side-effects, however, do include excessive paranoia.*
On a serious note, what I do wish to convey is that as pedestrians or commuters, I think it is high time we started following the rules to road safety.
We’re educated people. We know right from wrong, and yet we choose to ignore what needs to be done. Following the speed limit, going according to the designated lane, driving in the right state of mind, not texting while you’re crossing roads, reducing unnecessary honking, by not littering, by abiding all the signs/ signals, I think we can make this place a safer and nicer one to be in.
By: Prithvi Madhukar