Getting to the other side

Belgrade zebra crossing

The other side being the other side of the road, obviously.

A proposal! Perhaps if I painted Italian pedestrian crossings like these funky zebras found at an intersection in Belgrade, Italian drivers might actually notice them.. And in noticing them, actually stop for the pedestrians.

Belgrade zebra crossing

We realised pretty early on that pedestrian crossings were a little different in Italy. On our very first day, in an overcast Milan last year, in fact. We call the black and white crossings zebra crossings in New Zealand (obviously they do in Serbia, too), but I think that isn’t true for all of the world, am I right? But back in Milan we noticed two things. One: drivers don’t like to stop at pedestrian crossings. Two: the black and white lines are painted both at crossings controlled by traffic lights, and at those without.

These two points combined saw us perched uncertainly at the edge of many footpaths, trying to decide if we could or should cross. As the cars speeding past gave no indication of slowing down, we employed that useful tourist trick of waiting until someone else was crossing and then following in their wake.

Belgrade zebra crossing

Things are a little easier and slower in Rovereto, but it pays not to get too cocky. Last week I watched a woman glide through a crossing, two hands and two eyes affixed to the smart phone she was holding to the top of the steering wheel. I have stood at crossings with children, with prams, with toddlers and with dogs. None of these accessories work in your favour, nor will you be cut some slack even as a solo nonna or nonno. The only thing to do is make eye contact (safety first) and then just go for it.

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