Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Oslo had 0 pedestrian, 0 cyclist, 0 children and 1 driver trafic deaths in 2019 (twitter.com)
864 points by anonymfus 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 505 comments

Some contextual data from US cities in 2018

City – City Population (Metro Area Population), City Density per Square Mile, City Traffic Fatalities

Oslo [1]: 690,335 (1,588,457), 3,938, 1

Nashville [2][3]: 692,587 (1,930,961), 1,374, 82

Portland [4][5]: 653,115 (2,478,810), 4,911, 34

Milwaukee [6][7]: 592,025 (1,572,245), 6,155, 68

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oslo

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nashville,_Tennessee

[3] https://data.nashville.gov/Police/Traffic-Accidents-2018-/8k...

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland,_Oregon

[5] https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/74093

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milwaukee

[7] https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/about-wisdot/newsroom/statist...

using commas as your thousands delimiter as well as your field delimiter makes this really hard to read

Oslo: population 690k (metro 1.6m) / density 3938 / deaths 1

Nashville: pop 692k (1.9m) / density 1374 / deaths 82

Portland: pop 653k (2.4m) / density 4911 / deaths 34

Milwaukee: pop 592k (1.5m) / density 6155 / deaths 68

In the US we're good at announcing initiatives like "Vision Zero", and continuing to pretend it's a real thing even after a decade or more (in some cities) of making no material changes and traffic fatalities staying flat or even increasing.

The people running "vision zero" are spending large chunks of their money buying facebook ads telling the public about the ads they are buying at city-owned bus stops. Mayor Ed Lee of SF introduced the "Vision Zero" initiative years ago, but unfortunately died in office and the department he left behind is in zombie mode with no leadership or direction so they're buying bus stop ads reminding bus riders to look for pedestrians when driving their car. Preaching to the choir.

That's not true. Under London Breed, San Francisco has accelerated the rollout of safe bike lanes using the "quick build" program (https://www.sfmta.com/vision-zero-quick-build-projects). Ask any cyclist in SF - in the past 18 months the number of dedicated, curb or parking separated bike lanes, bulbouts, signals, and other bike infrastructure has jumped. There are still tons of problem areas (try biking from Bayview to the Mission) but London Breed's administration has already built more cycling infra than Ed Lee's ever did.

Ok, but at least there money is going to public transport companies.

FWIW The data for Milwaukee appears incorrect - the traffic fatalities are for the county of Milwaukee while the density is for the city. Recalculating density based on the land area of Milwaukee county shows 3,934 people per square mile.


I imagine it is quite close, the county of Milwaukee is essentially just the city. Even many of the suburbs are in surrounding counties

EliottM is right, the delta in land and population between the city and county is significant. Over 900K people in the county and 241 square miles compared to 96 square miles in the city.

In comparison, Detroit MI in the US has the same population and something like 46 pedestrian fatalities per year.


> The report shows that Detroit had 130 total traffic fatalities in 2015 - 46 of those were pedestrian.

Thanks! Fixed.

That number probably is for entire US

40,000 people are killed by cars every year in the USA. Over 4m are seriously injured or disabled.

Parent already fixed the comment

With more data points, a scatter plot of city density vs. traffic fatalities would be fascinating.

Need to look at total miles driven, not just population size vs. number of deaths.

Doesn't Norway have huge taxes on automobiles which chill ownership? If so, then population is not relevant. If only 10% of people can afford to own cars, then the number of crashes and fatalities will certainly be low.

The US standard of living is far higher. Whether that leads to more fatalities or not is anybody's guess. I would prefer the idea that we don't bother teaching people to drive very well or that people don't value developing their own good driving skills.

The US standard of living is lower than the Norwegian. In terms of GDP per capita, Norway is almost 25 percent richer.

In reality, though there is a lot more equality in Norway where much of the population shares in the wealth. Having traveled extensively in both countries, I can tell you that the standard of living for regular people in Norway is far higher than that of regular Americans.


Hi Flexie, we’re looking for a defamation lawyer in Denmark (libel against a company). Any recommendations or idea where to find one?

> Need to look at total miles driven, not just population size vs. number of deaths.

No, you don't, the point is that a similar amount of people can exist in a city without killing each other with cars.

> US standard of living is far higher.

Than Norway? The country with 25% higher GDP per capita than the US, a 33h average work week, and an infant mortality rate of a first world country? Nah

Norway also produces nearly 10x as much oil per capita as the US. Everybody seems to forget that when pointing out how nice the place is.

Is that an environment argument? Or an argumenbt that the money somehow doesn't count or helps ensure a good living standard?

That oil money does help living standards. Especially since a big state ownership plus big Nordic welfare state ensures it ends up helping pretty much everyone.

Environmental, for sure. They may not be burning all that oil themselves, but it would not get burned at all if they did not pull it out of the ground.

Usually producing a lot of oil is correlated with poor economic outcomes, not good ones https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_curse

Unlike most other petrostates, Norway has had the sense not to get high on their own supply - higher fuel taxes than their neighbors, stashing the oil revenues in a permanent fund, and taxing the heck out of their high salaries to pay for government spending.

When the oil runs out, they’ll still have their (currently) 1 Trillion dollar permanent fund to cushion the blow.

That would be a feature, usually countries relying on primary production have large wealth disparities.

> Need to look at total miles driven, not just population size vs. number of deaths.

If you happen to have traffic, and wish to improve the traffic in isolation, perhaps. More generally, what you need to look at really depends on whether you're trying to measure traffic safety itself, society's general safety and well being (very complex), or something more specific.

Why are you assuming that more driving means a higher standard of living? That’s a very provincial and suburban perspective to have. I’d rather be able to walk and take the subway places than have to drive everywhere.

Indeed, his own argument implies the opposite in that only people that can afford a car in the first place can benefit from this higher standard of living. Most people not needing a car is a far higher goal for a country to attain.

I guess you haven't been to Norway! And you might say "well it ain't fair they drive less miles". Maybe that is the point.

> The US standard of living is far higher.


Then if the us put a huge tax on cars, it would save lives too! Maybe we don’t need to drive as much. Maybe when we feel like a burger across town, we skip it instead of driving.

Speed limits are incredibly low. I drove across Norway this summer and never saw a speed limit higher than 50mph.

Highway speeds are 90-110km/h (55-70mph). General speed limits are 80km/h and 50km/h (50/30mph) depending on pop. density.

Speeds are often reduced if the road is sub par or if there have been accidents on that bit of road.

Yes. The limits are low, but definitivly not _incredibly_ low.

What highway? I was pretty surprised to not be on a proper motorway, it was all 2-lane highways. IIRC it was max 80km, with plenty of 70km and lower limits.

I drove Oslo Airport -> Flåm -> Bergen -> Oslo Airport. Looks like E16 / 7 / 52 were the roads involved, 968km loop.

Which mean you went the scenic route, crossed the mountain, hit the fjords, etc. The leg after Voss on Flåm->Bergen won the price of "the worst road in Norway"[1].

The motorways are mostly on the south-eastern part of Norway, where it's reasonably flat. There aren't that many of them, building infrastructure here is really hard.

[1]: https://www.nrk.no/hordaland/e16-bergen-voss-kara-til-_noreg...

Us foreigners could be forgiven for thinking the route between the two largest cities would have the busiest/most built up motorways :) I think the route via Flåm could certainly be considered "the scenic route", but my trip back was the most direct route per Google Maps.

I don't disagree that it's very difficult to build infrastructure! Every road must follow the contours of a fjord, or go over or through a mountain. I was very lucky to be able to drive the world's longest tunnel; I had read about it but honestly forgot about it until I made a left turn into a mountain and was perplexed as to how I could get to where I was going by driving into it.

To those that aren't sure: 50mph is around 80kph.

And yeah, that's gonna be a pretty standard speed limit, though some with 90-100kph are out there. Unless you meant 50kph... and in that case, it is low.

that seems a little low. imagine living in wyoming and never being allowed to drive above 50 mph.

imo, american speed limits should be much lower in the city and significantly higher on limited access highways. 25 in the city often feels downright dangerous; I'll often go slower if I don't think I'll be creating an even more dangerous hazard. on the other hand, 65 feels like crawling on a straight, wide highway.

Also need to look at travel times. Norway has low speed limits and makes driving an inconvenience in the pursuit of perfect safety records. But it takes away from being able to get where you want quickly (cities with road infrastructure that is not over-subscribed are way faster to get around than walking/biking/public transit) and on your own terms (no waiting times, room for people/cargo, etc.). The tradeoffs for a better safety record, as well as the lurking variables, are not being considered in this conversation.


Best source I can find, suggests that travel times in Oslo are decent by world standards, and falls about where you would expect a US city of that size and density to be. It's conveniently right next to Portland, which was listed by the grandparent comment as a comparable.

The density required to have walking/biking/transit be realistic and efficient options makes over-subscribed roads a certainty unless you actively restrict automobile traffic. Private cars as the primary means of transportation works brilliantly in low to mid density areas, but fails utterly in high density ones.

There is no one size fits all solution for all cities. In my opinion it seems quite clear that there should be a negative correlation between density and private automobile usage in order to optimize safety and efficiency for all.

Not true. Cars are extremely space inefficient. The only way to have road infrastructure that is not oversubscribed is to have both low population and population density. But low density means having to travel much further distances to access basic amenities. It is not faster or more convenient to drive 10 miles to the grocery store than walk 2 blocks, even if driving 10 miles is a lot quicker out in the sticks.

Driving isn't as convenient in the cities - Trondheim, at least, is very walkable. There is a tunnel under the city for quicker driving, though, and it sure is faster than the bus or walking of you are going across town. It is going to be faster in electric cars since they can use different traffic routes.

The speed limits are low, but you get used to that.

Imagine thinking that making things more convenient for drivers is worth a lot more dead people!

At some level it is. If you think that any amount of risk is too great, then everyone should just stay in their home. But that's obviously impractical.

Well, if you can live like they do in Oslo and have 1 death. That seems worth it.

One interesting observation on Oslo is that, pedestrians do cross the street when it's red for them, if there's no moving traffic close by. This is totally different from, for example, Copenhagen, Stockholm and places I visited in Germany. They're like Italians of the north.

That's probably why we felt at home on the streets during our stay there, as a family from Turkey. I would love to have that 0 deaths statistics here instead, though.

pedestrians do cross the street when it's red for them

You have to think what pedestrian lights are for. They exist solely to improve the flow of car traffic. Pedestrian lights are in gross contrast to the rights and benefits of pedestrians. Without lights, pedestrians would always have first priority on a crosswalk. Cars would have to stop for any pedestrian crossing the street. However, drivers (of inefficient but fast automobiles) don't like waiting for a more efficient form (on the city centre scale) of traffic (i.e. pedestrians) to cross the street so pedestrian lights exist to ensure enough green time for cars so that they don't always have to stop. Thus, it is no wonder that any sensible person wouldn't cross the street on red if there are no cars coming.

Here is an interesting article on how automobile manufacturers helped to make jaywalking a crime in order to quell the concerns of automobile deaths and shift the responsibility onto the pedestrians in order to make automobiles more appealing:


Almost like it would make sense to have at least legally separate pathways for motorized, less motorized (scooters, e-bikes), bicycles and pedestrians, because they are very different forms of transport.

It makes perfect sense in theory. In the real world though space is limited. We cannot have separate spaces: there isn't enough room - unless you space things out so far that only only car transport makes sense, at which point why bother building paths for the other modes? Which is why suburbs don't have sidewalks: there is no place you can practically go by any mode other than car so why bother creating space for those modes.

so why bother creating space for those modes.

My suburb had 2 very popular parks at either end -- as kids, we always walked or rode our bikes there... on the road since there were no sidewalks. Likewise when we went to a friends house we generally walked on the road (or cut through people's yards).

There are plenty of reasons to have sidewalks even if there's no commercial destination to get to, not everyone can drive everywhere they need to go. Of course, this was a time when kids were allowed some autonomy, nowadays maybe parents would drive us 2 blocks to the park.

The neighborhood still has no sidewalks, but I see speed bumps and "Slow down - watch for children signs", so seems that kids do still walk on the roadway and parents are worried for their safety.

I rode the school bus to school because the school was way too far to walk -- it wasn't until I was an adult that I realized that the school was only about half a mile away, but with no sidewalks, it wasn't realistically walkable despite the short distance. We spent more time waiting for the bus every morning than it would have taken to walk there.

At the time it seemed completely normal - why would anyone walk when they could drive!? But now I pay attention to walkability and bikeability and avoid driving when I can. (not just because it's good for the environment, but it's good for me too)

I used to live about 1 mile from my middle and high schools. There was a bus that most kids in my subdivision used, and I used it for a while, but eventually I realized that it took about as long to ride the bus to school as it did to just walk (I think I was actually slightly faster walking), and after getting tired of the nasty kids on the bus I just walked every day. Sometimes people driving in the morning felt sorry for me and gave me a ride.

However, one thing I do remember was that there were absolutely no sidewalks, so for a lot of people it probably didn't seem walkable.

One advantage of suburbs is there is so little traffic you can let your kids play in the street.

My old neighborhood used to be like that - but based on the speed bumps and "Slow down" signs (both official signs and signs that parents put up) that I see in that neighborhood, the traffic has increased (looks like they filled in some former farmland with apartment buildings near the back of the development), and now it's less safe for children to play or walk in the street.

There are city centers like that too, it’s not an exclusive property of suburbs.

I've lived in different suburbs my whole life and all have had sidewalks. They don't get used as much as in cities obviously, but you still have kids walking to/from school, people walking their dogs, going on runs, etc.

The only places I've seen without sidewalks would be clearly classified as "rural".

Some cities are really good at putting in sidewalks if it is a residential area. Others don't bother putting them in neighborhoods at all.

A much bigger issue is that you can't generally get to a store, across town, or to work on sidewalks.

25% of Seattle has no sidewalks, including many residential areas...


>suburbs don't have sidewalks

Plenty of suburbs have sidewalks.

> Nobody complained because why would you want to walk miles to the closest grocery store anyway?

I've been guests at a few different suburban neighborhoods in the US. I realize that some of these are so big and remote that it really is too far to walk to anything significant, but those I visited did have grocery stores and such within a walkeable distance, but that's not always the case, and still there's not much if any sidewalks. One did have sidewalks, but using it to get to stores was a detour compared to other roads. The other did not have any sidewalks. I walked anyway (didn't have a car) and I felt like people looked oddly at me for doing it.

In Norway, almost all suburban areas have wide sidewalks now, even if grocery stores and such are far away. Kids generally use sidewalks for biking, and many kids bike or walk to school, even for a mile or more (3 for my high school, although there was school bus that I used in winter). People take walks from just outside their house to.. wherever. There's usually some park or just a patch of woods within walking distance. Maybe a shared playground or soccer field for kids.

There are generally walking paths between houses at regular intervals, so houses don't act as impassable walls. If there are steep slopes and hills, there's often stairs you can walk down.

I'm really astonished that Americans don't do it the same way. My mother in law house could've been a 5 minute walk from a lovely beach and supermarkets and cafes if there was just a path/stair that went down a slope from their house between other properties. Instead it's a 30 minute+ walk, along a long and winding road with an extremely narrow sidewalk, where a 100m stretch of the road for some inexplicable reason is missing sidewalk altogether (if you ask for directions on Google Maps it'll avoid this stretch, which gives you a 1 hour walk instead)

> I'm really astonished that Americans don't do it the same way.

Americans tend to have strange ideas about walking. If they think about it at all, they tend to think of it as something that's only done in extremis.

I've discovered, for example, that, when I travel for work, it's generally useless to ask hotel staff if they can recommend any restaurants "within walking distance" when I'm staying in a suburban area. They will always say that there aren't any. Even when there are several within 500 meters of the hotel.

When I am visiting the main office (also in a suburban area) I stay about 1.5km away from the building. I choose to walk to get between there and the hotel. It's a lovely walk, all sidewalks, through a quiet neighborhood. My colleagues consider this to be very peculiar behavior. If someone recognizes me while I'm on the sidewalk, they'll stop, express concern, and ask me if I need a ride, and I generally have to assure them multiple times that I'm OK and I just prefer to walk.

I've grown the habit of telling people (in walking context) there are ultra marathons where people walk 5000 km and (in cycling contest) that I know low end cycling enthusiasts who do 300 km in a day - pushing as hard as they can. Their fitness is much closer to ours than to those winning the Tour de France.

In my mind that means looking up to 1.5 km walk or 10 km of cycling really says more about me and you than it says about the distance. The world walking record is 175 km in 24 hours. Think about it, that is much more than a hundred times 1.5km. Someone some day cycled.... over 900 km in a day! Climbing Mount Everest is only 20 km but it takes 55 days!

You have to be in terrible shape to look up to 1.5 km.

> there are ultra marathons where people walk 5000 km and [...] the world walking record is 175 km in 24 hours.

Is that right? That's 685 days of continuous walking at the world record speed.

Don't ask me how. I downloaded the information from the internet.


You have 52 days to do it. Record: 40 days 09:06:21 by Ashprihanal Pekka Aalto

I screwed up the math. It's 28.6 days at the world record speed. I multiplied by 24 unnecessarily. Still a long time, but a lot more reasonable (and it agrees with your records).

Is that rue of all "Americans" (U.S. citizens) or is it just specific kins off places, like some suburbs? I have seen plenty of footage of people walking around large US cities. And what about rural places? Surely theree's nothing stopping people from taking long walks on the countryside if they live out in the boondocks, etc?

I find it's mostly a suburban and rural thing. Though, even large US cities can be quite suburban in their makeup. I found Phoenix to be surprisingly difficult to navigate on foot, for example.

There is recreational walking, but it can be odd. I have family members who live in areas without sidewalks, and they do regularly go for pleasure walks, but such outings tend to start with a car ride. Because the nearest place where space has been made for walking is several miles away.

Walking on country roads generally isn't pleasant. The roads are narrow, the traffic is fast, the drivers are discourteous and/or texting while driving, and the only place to put your feet where you're not in danger of being hit by a car is often a drainage ditch.

Cities out West in the States tend to be less dense because they were founded by people who generally had horses/wagons already to get there and because they were founded closer in time to the invention of the automobile, so their infrastructure was less solidified by the time it was introduced and thus they've adapted more to cars with a broader sprawl and less vertical buildup. Of course this isn't true of all cities in the Western US, but as a general trend it holds up.

It's definitely not true of larger cities. Here in Manhattan more than 3/4ths of households don't even own cars, so yeah, there's lots of walking.

It's a post ww2 suburban thing.

In the suburbs I grew up in, walking, especially to accomplish practical tasks like grocery shopping, was seen a signal that you were "on welfare" - which was code for poverty.

Meanwhile, people drove to fitness clubs to walking miles on treadmills while slurping energy drinks.

>I have seen plenty of footage of people walking around large US cities.

Where, in the movies?

If you're talking about Manhattan, NYC, that place is absolutely nothing like the rest of America, except maybe for a few other large cities' downtown areas (DC, Boston, Portland, etc). These few places have entirely different lifestyles from the rest of rural and suburban America, where cars reign supreme.

You can walk in the countryside all you want, but you'll be walking on the asphalt roadway with vehicles zooming along at 70mph and limited sightlines, so you'll probably end up dead in a ditch by the side of the road if you make that a lifelong habit. The driver who killed you probably won't stop, and would not be punished by the legal system even if they did.

For example: https://13wham.com/news/local/pedestrian-hit-by-car-then-tic...

Hit by a car at 3pm, i.e. broad daylight. "Deputies ticketed Weaver for not being as far off the road as possible. The driver who hit him was not charged."

In the US it is illegal to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk in most places

Many jurisdictions explicitly allow younger children to ride bicycles on sidewalks.

In practice though it's almost never enforced.

that's true for many countries in europe too, but we do have a lot more bike paths and drivers are generally more considerate towards cyclists than they are in the u.s.

with my road bike (i.e. no suspension) i usually prefer the road over adjacent bike paths (which is legal in my country), as the roads are usually in better shape.

Yup. Bikes are 'cars' unless being walked. That includes crosswalks.

That depends very much on the location. In my area, for example, bikes are allowed on sidewalks if there is no bike lane.

I grew up in suburbs that did not have a consistent network of sidewalks. Some existed but you really need 100% of roads to have one or you're suddenly walking 2 miles extra to get around the missing link. Nobody complained because why would you want to walk miles to the closest grocery store anyway?

"Sidewalks to nowhere" don't count as sidewalks. They count as decoration.

Former suburbs kid here. I lived about 4 miles from the nearest grocery store. I used the sidewalks in my area all the time.

If you think that a sidewalk in a purely residential area only goes to nowhere, you spend way too much time looking at screens. Get out, meet, and spend some time with your neighbors.

Great that you had a sidewalk that went somewhere. Many suburbs do not.

if it is 4 miles to the grocery store, then you can't walk anywhere. Your ice cream will melt before you get back home. There might be a continuous sidewalk all the way, but you have better things to do with your time than walk that far.

You can walk to a neighbor's house. Surely that counts as somewhere?

Seriously, get out and meet your neighbors.

That is all. It doesn't count. Can you walk to work, church, the grocery store, other dry goods stores, restaurants, or even your friend from years ago who moved? In cities you can do all of the above in some form (meaning you might not like the store, but at least there is one)

Still not sure why they don't have more pedestrian catwalks in cities directly above the roads. That's a whole lot less expensive than elevated roadways (you have to support ~200 pound pedestrians instead of 80,000 pound trucks), separates the pedestrians from the cars, and doesn't require any additional land.

And then you could have second story pedestrian entrances to buildings, which already have elevators in them, so it wouldn't even be an issue for people who have trouble with stairs.

Making pedestrians go out of their way to get anywhere is a great way to discourage walking and treat it as a second class citizen to driving, when it should really be the other way around.

Plus, said catwalks need to be accessible, so how many elevators are you planning on putting in and maintaining now?

Pedestrian bridges flat-out suck. Better to get rid of as many vehicles as possible and slow the remaining ones waaaay the hell down so that people can walk along streets and across intersections safely.

For one. bridge you are right. Put in dozens such that you can go several km without going back down though and things are different.

Do you realize how catastrophically expensive it would be to build and maintain all of these bridges and pathways along with the four elevators per intersection? And how closed in and claustrophobic it would make the street level feel like from blocking out so much sun?

If this idea were viable, someone somewhere in the world would have already done it. But the closest I can think of is Las Vegas, and that's only along one road, and it's not even a full pedestrian pathway but instead just some bridges over intersections, and those are primarily there to prevent drunks from getting run over by cars.

> If this idea were viable, someone somewhere in the world would have already done it.

Hong Kong does this in the downtown area. It’s viable because of the very high population density and prevalence of foot traffic.


Many cities in fact already have it. We call them skyways. The bridge is building to building. It is generally not on the corners, but in the middle of the block. Getting in is tricky because you need to find the elevator in the middle of the building, but once in you don't leave for a while so that isn't a big deal.

Yeah, I'm aware of what skyways are. And there's no city in which they remotely come close to covering as much walking territory as sidewalks do.

True, but they do cover most of the areas where a large number of people want to be often.

Downtown Manila basically has bridges over every intersection, or underground walkways with elevators for the disabled.

It works out great. Though admittedly it’s more of a workout than walking in flat Manhattan.

So you've got to go up and down to cross every single intersection? That sounds like a nightmare that makes walking take significantly longer.

It works because driving is so inconvenient there.

If driving is already so inconvenient why not just relegate it even further and prioritize walking over vehicles at intersections? Why should all the larger numbers of pedestrians be forced to take much longer to get where they're going on account of all these bridges to benefit a smaller number of vehicles?

Sure, improvements should be made. The pedestrian bridges themselves are improvements. People use them by choice, and not because they appreciate the exercise. It would be easy to underestimate just how many many vehicles and pedestrians are attempting to navigate the metro Manila area. Roads and other transit infrastructure are seriously lacking in Philippines, relative to that seen in more "developed" nations.

they actually do this in places like Minneapolis. mainly because it's just too cold to be outside for prolonged periods in the winter. my friend walks almost his entire commute without going outside.

Yeah, so that system is only 9.5 miles, and claims to be the largest such system of connected aerial sidewalks in the world. Meanwhile, NYC has 12,750 miles of sidewalks.

That's a several orders of magnitude difference between the capacity of the two systems.

Elevated pedestrian catwalks are a recurring architectural fad. They don't tend to work out very well outside of a few specific areas, though, as pedestrians traffic is most popular in situations where pedestrians also have access to lots of street-level homes and businesses.

Consider further coverage and commentary such as




Wouldn't the space and extra travel distance required for above-street ramps makes them impractical? If you want to rise 15 ft in the air at a 5% grade, you need 300 ft. Now imagine a ramp every block.

That depends, is there are network of them such that you can go a few km without going outside, or is it across one road. The latter is worthless for all the reasons you mention. For dense areas (downtown) they are fairly common, office workers can go several buildings over to lunch without going outside, and things are heated in winter.

They're fairly common? Can you provide examples?

The closest thing I can think of is a series of connected pedestrian tunnels that you see in some Canadian cities like Montreal and Toronto. Those primarily exist for a different reason; winter is months-long and so cold that you don't want to step foot outside at all. Pedestrian bridges don't accomplish this goal.

Des Moines IA. Minneapolis MN are two that I know of. They are fully enclosed, building to building. They exist in part because of winter, but have took on a life of their own.

How old is the skyway system? Were the buildings built with this in mind or were they added on later?


For Minneapolis, the first segment was built in 1962. Segments are often retrofits, as many of the buildings predate there system.

Sure, it should take 15 minutes and several flights of stairs to walk across a single street, why not?

Quite a few cities do do this (Florida, I'm looking at you!). It's a terrible design, might as well have a machine that punches all pedestrians in the face as they go by.

It would be even better if the punching machine were somehow controlled by passing automobiles performing extreme maneuvers...

>Still not sure why they don't have more pedestrian catwalks in cities directly above the roads.

I assume it would cost more in building and maintenance costs than sidewalks.

If there is a large network building owners will happily install and maintain them. In some places the expensive store fronts are on the second floor where all the people are: they take those cat walks from building to building without putting a coat on.

Maybe in some areas it may work but for most cities and many places in those cities it just won't work.

Like any system you need a critical mass of infrastructure before it takes off. Is it worth it for your situation is always a valid question.

Suburbs don't have sidewalks because the real estate developers got out before the newly formed city government wrote regulations defining what a house had to include in order to be sold. Since then, it has been "traditional" to subject pedestrians to the dangers of auto traffic.

There is no space? I am surprised. Sweden has separate bike lanes and walking paths in the suburbs. A lot of Northern Europe is the same.

In Oslo at least, the crosswalks (usually) have lights if there's an intersection, and since there are no laws against crossing on red you are free to do so, as long as you don't create any dangerous situations.

I'd argue that the lights are not to improve traffic flow, but to signal pedestrians that it's safe to cross, something sighted, young or otherwise healthy people often take for granted by just looking both ways before crossing.

So no - the lights aren't only to improve traffic. The dynamic changes when there are no jaywalking laws.

In the US, pedestrian signals do NOT signal when it’s safe to cross. Cars almost always have a green in the same direction, meaning they can turn into you. I almost get run over once a month because of this.

When I visited the USA for a conference, I looked up a nice coffee place that was just across the street from the academic campus where I was staying. I went to the nearest crossing point, waited for several cycles of the traffic lights, and still couldn't deduce when it was safe to cross.

The road markings were black and white stripes, which mean "cars must always stop for pedestrians crossing here" where I live (UK). The description above chimes with my experience. Who does have priority when the light is red but cars are still turning right?

In the end, I went back and had the nasty coffee in the university. It seemed to dangerous to try to cross.

Edit: this is different in different states? It was in North Carolina for reference.

As a pedestrian, you have right of way over turning traffic. Of course, it's prudent to exercise reasonable care and not just assume a driver has seen you especially if visibility isn't good for whatever reason.

OTOH, especially at a busy intersection, if you're just standing on the sidewalk looking confused, a driver looking to make a turn is probably going to just shrug and turn right through the crosswalk. Some drivers will doubtless be overly aggressive or inattentive. But a random driver is also not going to sit there forever waiting for you to make up your mind about whether to cross or not.

Pedestrians have the right of way compared to cars with a red light. Cars turning right on red are required to stop before turning, but whether or not they do depends on the culture of the locality.

Also, as a note, college campuses are some of the worst places for cars and pedestrians to have to interact. The students seem to ignore the rules of the road regardless of whether they are pedestrians or drivers.

The best understanding of those painted markings is that they mean nothing until you find strong social conventions indicating otherwise. City norms will be passed as state laws, creating discrepancies in rural regions between the law and the expectations. Bad drivers flow from everywhere to everywhere else with no regard for discrepancies in laws. The only markings I would trust are the scramble intersections, which I've only seen in Guam. And walk signals can often be trusted.

For evidence that people don't know state/local laws, ask a group of people in the US when they are permitted to u turn. It varies widely, mostly in insignificant ways.

It varies from state to state and city to city. Some have the very regulation you are talking about. I have never seen it enforced.

In your case if there was no indicator light. Then you could go for it when the traffic was going in the same direction as you or when clear from the other direction.

The general rule of thumb is from any corner you can cross. That does not mean you get to stop traffic to do so. Though it seems much more common now for people to just cross wherever they want in the area I live in. They seem surprised when I honk at them. It shakes them out of them looking down at their phone while randomly walking around. You may have 'right of way' but the driver does not always see you in time. Be safe.

I don't get this. You acknowledge that they have right of way. You have apparently had plenty of time to stop and have done so. Yet you insist on honking at them as if they did something wrong?

The law under the Uniform Vehicle Code, adopted by most states, is that there is a crosswalk (marked or unmarked) between any two sidewalks at a corner. Drivers have a legal responsibility to yield to pedestrians there. Drivers almost always flagrantly violate this law.

> They seem surprised when I honk at them.

Maybe roll down your window and say something instead of blaring your horn at people who aren’t encased in a car. Although I am not sure why you think you have a right to teach strangers a lesson.

I have to say I am disgusted with HN. Horns aren’t meant for telling people they’re doing something you don’t like. They’re for preventing other cars from colliding with your car. Pedestrians pose no harm to your vehicle, so if you’re out there honking at pedestrians, you’re behaving in a shitty manner and making the road more adversarial for everyone.

Pedestrians absolutely pose potential harm to a car (though, of course, the car poses far more potential harm to the pedestrian), especially with all of the crumple zones and sensors. Even a relatively low speed collision of say, 25 mph, I'd be surprised if the car is getting away with less than $5k in repairs.

Jaywalking is dangerous, especially on busy streets. And I admit to my fair amount jaywalking when I worked in downtown Chicago.

The horn is primarily about expressing anger but about imminent danger. A pedestrian steps out, from limitted visibility between cars, into traffic they deserve to be honked at. Not because of anger, but because they are putting themselves and others at undue risk.

That said, I don't think Ive ever personally seen someone respond to a horn in a fashion to avoid an accident. Twice last year, I was involved in accidents caused by someone else changing into my lane. Both times I saw it coming, laid on the horn and braked, but they kept coming faster than I could stop.

One, I couldnt avoid at all. We were in a construction zone, and the car next to me just kept coming over. I saw it coming, but had no where to go. No shoulder, just a concrete K-rail with about 6 inches of wiggle room. Side swiped me at about 55 mph. Entire driver's side was fuckedd up. Couldnt even open my door. Also managed to fuck up some of the passenger side as I did everything I could to get out of the way. (little bit of fender damage, cut both tires and scraped up a wheel)

The second one was I was in a left turn lane and the dude tried to force is way in. I didnt even see his signal until it was too late. Again, laid on the horn and brake, still mamaged to put his rear door into my passenger side front quarter panel.

Had a third actual miss earlier this year. Was driving in the 2nd from left lane in a rain storm, doing around 80mph on the highway. Car in the left lane, without signaling, starts coming over. Again, slam on the brakes and the horn, asshole keeps coming. Went from 80 to 60 in about a second or so, nearly getting rearended in the process. My car also started going sideways. In a lesser car, I probably would have lost it, but mine is pretty stable. Soon as I let hard off the brake, it recovered easily.

Point is, everyone assumes if someone is honking they're road raging at you, and some surely use it that way, but it's primarily about signaling imminent danger, and you should really take note (and probably return to your lane until you can figure out what the danger is by checking your blind spots, etc).

> I am disgusted with HN

It's one person out of hundreds of thousands who visit each day. And the comment is downvoted.

When the dude is walking across a 3 way 45MPH in each direction street in a low light situation. Then 1 block away was a well lit cross walk. Yeah he gets the horn. Sorry if I did not make that clear. Did not think I had to... Oh that happened to me just last week. Although I am not sure why you think it is OK for that 1 dude to hold up about 40 other people.

> he gets the horn

That's not what horns are for. You seem to think it's a punitive device, and I certainly would interpret it similarly to you aiming the muzzle of a gun at my chest.

Granted, I'll agree that's a dumb situation to cross the street, but your actions make it even worse.

To be clear, I mean that if everyone did what you do, going around rationalizing how people "get the horn" when they upset you rather than when your car is in legitimate imminent danger of a collision, we're mainly accomplishing two things:

1. Making driving more aggressive as a whole, associating all these little driving interactions with BLARING CAR HORN SOUNDS

2. Cheapening the meaning of the car horn for when it actually matters

The horn isn't a tool for letting out your aggression. Try screaming obscenities loudly in your car or something else fun like that.

> Then 1 block away was a well lit cross walk

> Although I am not sure why you think it is OK for that 1 dude to hold up about 40 other people

This is a perfect illustration of the US's driving-first culture. Let's do some math here. 40 people / 1.7 people per car average [1] = ~23.529 or 24 cars (which may be the case if it's rush hour, but probably not if it's not). If this is a 3 way intersection, and each of the cars is evenly distributed between directions (which I realize is incorrect, of course), then there are ~7.843 or 8 cars per side. Assuming an (informally weighted) average car size of 174 in. per car [2], with 2 ft of distance between each car, then the block length is a minimum of 1406 ft. Given that the average person walks at 4.6 ft/s [3], this distance would take 5.09 min. to traverse, just to get to your well lit next block. The average US commute is 26.1 min [4], which means just getting to the next block to cross at the well lit intersection would be 1/5 of the average commute, let alone the time most people are willing to tolerate to go to the grocery or pharmacy.

Obviously there are a lot of assumptions in this calculation, but it really goes a long way to showing how little American car-first culture thinks of pedestrian infrastructure, attractiveness, and travel times. "Just" walking over to the next, well-lit block, immediately makes a pedestrian trip for chores non-viable for anyone that values their time. To me, there also seems an in-built disdain for the time and safety of the pedestrian, and those attitudes do nothing but make it more difficult for Americans to do anything without their cars.

[1]: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/tpm/guidance/avo_factors.pdf

[2]: https://www.reference.com/world-view/average-length-car-2e85...

[3]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preferred_walking_speed

[4]: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/22/study-states-with-the-longes...

Where I live in the US, my understanding is that pedestrians always have the right of way at intersections (regardless of whether there are any traffic or pedestrian signals) unless:

1. There is a pedestrian signal that says to NOT cross, or

2. The traffic signal going in the direction the pedestrian is walking is red.

So if the light is green and the pedestrian signal does not say to not cross, then the pedestrian has the right of way over any cars turning. However, as with anything traffic related, that doesn't mean that a pedestrian can intentionally create an unsafe situation (e.g., start crossing the street as a car is turning).

The problem I've seen is that (especially in suburbs where pedestrians are rarer) drivers don't check for pedestrians. Almost every time I'm walking for any length of time I nearly get hit by a car that assumes that a green light means they're free to turn right without any restrictions. This isn't me intentionally creating an unsafe situation (often I'm already in the intersection), it's drivers who see so few pedestrians they're not trained to think of them.

This is anecdotal evidence, but I moved from a european town of 200 000 to a mega-city of 20 000 000 and I've seen far fewer incidents here during the last 5 years than the first 30 in my old hometown combined.

This is my impression as well, having been both a driver and pedestrian in the suburbs and in a big city. Driving in a densely populated city trains you to think there’s a pedestrian waiting to pop out of every nook and cranny and hop in front of your car. You might even witness one crawling out of a sewer hole to stand in the middle of the street, and it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise when it happens.

As someone who has commuted primarily by bike or on foot in the US for the better part of the past 10+ years, I can confirm that this description is spot on.

I have a crossing signal. Cars going the same direction as me also have green lights. They make right/left turns into my path ALL THE TIME. I should have the right of way, but that doesn't do me any good when I get hit by a 2-ton metal machine going 40mph. I guess my ghost can take solace in my wife's victorious wrongful death suit?

In the UK pedestrians do not have the right of way unless at a traffic light crossing or in the rare zebra crosswalks. That was rather a culture shock for me.

Rule 170 of the highway code: "watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way"

Right of way is for pedestrians on any road in the US, however you can be arrested for public nuisance on a busy non pedestrian toad such as an exit expressway.

>that doesn't mean that a pedestrian can intentionally create an unsafe situation (e.g., start crossing the street as a car is turning).

So does that mean a person is allowed to intentionally create an unsafe situation by maneuvering their 2 ton+ vehicle into a crosswalk when a pedestrian is approaching it

Seems like a cultural problem, not a crosswalk light problem. Most people (myself included) automatically slow down when driving into a crosswalk. Our intersections are usually fairly small, so it's hard to build up any speed, even if you wanted to.

Oh, it is definitely a huge cultural problem. In the US, many drivers will ignore the existence of pedestrians altogether. For example, pulling up to an intersection and only looking to the left before making a right turn, because that is the only direction that car traffic can be coming from.

It isn't every car by any means, but enough cars that pedestrians need to assume that drivers are incompetent until given evidence otherwise.

>> Oh, it is definitely a huge cultural problem. In the US, many drivers will ignore the existence of pedestrians altogether.

Strange, because most likely the majority of drivers also walk at least a short distance around the same cities they drive into.

In the US in particular, eyballing the number of cars and the number of pedestrians in images of places like New York etc that I've seen, it's very hard to believe that there's a clear line separating all those people walking about from all those people who drive cars, other than the specific time of day they do one or the other.

So you'd think that being careful around pedestrians should come naturally to most drivers, if nothing else because they'd want other drivers to be careful around them as pedestrians also.

You have to remember that the vast majority of the US is nothing like NYC in terms of walkability or population density, and in the city I live in (suburb of a major Texas city) there is literally nothing within walking distance of my house except a school, and some of the big streets don't even have sidewalks.

Many drivers are commuters from the suburbs who drive in the morning, park inside or very near their office building, and drive home in the evening. The downtowns of many US cities are completely dead after "working" hours.

>In the US in particular, eyballing the number of cars and the number of pedestrians in images of places like New York etc that I've seen

You sound like a non-American. Let me give you some advice: take everything you've ever seen about NYC, and file that in a different place in your brain's filing system away from your file labeled "America". It does not represent America in any way when talking about cars, walkability, culture, or really anything else really. It's a place that's totally unique in the world. For some reason, too many non-Americans see movies set in NYC and think that all of America is just like this, and it isn't at all.

(Personally, I wish it was more representative of America in terms of walkability, but it just isn't.)

It goes both ways. At least once a day (in the USA) I see a pedestrian walk or run into an intersection against their own red. A few are lost in their phones, but the vast majority simply take a glance to make sure you're going to slow down, and then charge on through.

It is still an entirely asymmetric situation. If a pedestrian is inattentive, the consequences fall on the pedestrian. If a driver is inattentive, the consequences fall on the pedestrian.

(This is not to imply that severe injury and death are appropriate "punishments" for walking inattentively, merely that the pedestrians have large incentive to modulate their behavior, while drivers do not.)

And then also, many pedestrians see the walk sign and just start crossing while staring at their phone without even glancing around to be sure there aren't any inattentive drivers heading their way.

While true, the distractedness (on the part of the pedestrian or the driver) doesn't absolve the driver of their responsibility to yield in this scenario. A driver who hits a pedestrian in this scenario will be subject to criminal and civil penalties, and rightly so.

I certainly hope I didn't imply otherwise. On a cultural and legal level, assigning fault/responsibility to drivers makes total sense. On a personal level, if I get killed I'm not gonna care that much that it "wasn't my fault" and I should take the precaution of looking up from my phone when walking in front of moving vehicles.

I don’t think you implied otherwise, but people say some crazy things on this site, so I wanted to be perfectly clear.

This doesn't completely jive with my experience. I live near schools and drivers aren't constantly almost running into kids walking to the park or school.

But it certainly seems true in busier areas with less pedestrian traffic such as mini malls. Especially when pulling out of parking lots.

> In the US, many drivers will ignore the existence of pedestrians altogether.

This is pretty limited to urban areas, in my experience. In more suburban and rural parts of the country, people are much more cautious and obedient to traffic signals and rights of way. Of course there are exceptions in both cases, but running red lights, turning into pedestrians/cyclists/etc is much more prominent in major cities. As an urban pedestrian, I just have to keep my head on a swivel because there's a good chance that the taxi/Uber across from me is going to run the light that just turned red so he can make his left turn instead of waiting for his signal.

It's both.

Right-on-red is a huge problem in areas where pedestrians want to cross. If memory serves, the UK does not allow turns on red. That makes more sense to me.

On my walk to work, I have to cross one 8-lane suburban street. 4 thru lanes, plus several turn lanes in each direction. The radius of the corners is smooth. Stop lines are far back from the actual apex of the corner. So, cars can easily roll through corners at 40mph. They do this when I have a walk signal because they either have their own green, or they're turning on red and only looking for oncoming traffic (to their left) and not for pedestrians (to their right).

This. In Houston you have the added adventure of every 1 of every 2.5 people distracted driving and not looking where they are going or minding the pedestrian traffic.

There are so few pedestrians that most drivers are not used to looking for them.

In Boston cars are required to yield to pedestrians on turns, and many intersections have signs to remind them of this. That said, it's always a good idea to look and see what cars are actually doing, regardless of what laws and signals say.

Pedestrians (ANY traffic, NO MATTER the direction OR lane) that follow the road you are turning from have priority over you making a turn, always.

Boston also has more "pedestrian scramble" all-way walk lights, a configuration less common in the rest of the US.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the scramble. There are a few near me, on mid-sized roads.

I have to cross a fairly wide, busy road to get to work. I wish it had a scramble with no-turn-on-red signage. That would make my commute massively safer.

> Cars almost always have a green in the same direction, meaning they can turn into you.

This is where you are mistaken. In the US, cars are obligated to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk while turning, even with a green light. The pedestrian signal indicates pedestrians have the right of way. Of course, drivers may illegally fail to yield, but whether a driver obeys the law is a different matter than what the law says.

Norwegian traffic lights are the same.

In the US, you are generally safer crossing the street anywhere other than where there are painted crosswalks. They are always in terrible locations where there is guaranteed to be traffic and typically sight lines are poor.

In the city I live, there are flashing light crossings where cars are obliged to stop whenever there is a pedestrian on the road. Having lights is certainly to improve traffic flow rather than safety.

>Having lights is certainly to improve traffic flow rather than safety.

As a pedestrian I want traffic flow to be as predictable as possible because that makes it easier to get where I'm going safely and lights accomplish that goal better than roundabouts or stop signs even if the traffic speed through intersections is higher. Higher stakes, better odds.

> Without lights, pedestrians would always have first priority on a crosswalk. Cars would have to stop for any pedestrian crossing the street.

Traffic lights in combination with a pedestrian crossing proper (a zebra crossing) seem to be rather rare, at least in Europe. Thus most crossing points of pedestrian would, in absence of traffic lights, not give them the right of way, because crossing traffic generally does not have the right of way. Traffic crossing from something other than a street never has the right of way.

So I don't see at all how "lights are in gross contrast to the rights of pedestrians".

In the UK, the Highway Code rule 8 ( https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/rules-for-pedes... ) points out that pedestrians crossing the road have priority over turning vehicles.

> pedestrians crossing the road have priority over [vehicles turningo into the road they are crossing]

Yes, that's what I wrote. "Crossing traffic" refers to traffic crossing your road. In general, traffic that follows your road always has priority over you making a turn. Hence if you make a left turn you have to yield to oncoming traffic, and pedestrians going straight on the left. Similarly, if you make a right turn, you have to yield to the pedestrians going straight on your right. (When you make a right turn, there should be no way for someone (motorcycle, bicycle) to drive on the right of you, since you are supposed to be the rightmost thing on the road. Obviously you still have to watch out for bicyclists driving on the sidewalk.)

For the same reason you have to yield to pedestrians crossing your exit when leaving a roundabout, even if they don't have a zebra crossing.

I'm not sure I follow.

Zebra crossing = pedestrian right of way, but the pedestrian should acknowledge the driver. This means that on the zebra crossing pedestrian has right of way, except when there is a pedestrian traffic light.

Not sure that traffic lights with zebra crossings are rare in Europe? Most intersections in cities are like that at least where I visited.

Pedestrians had the right of way before the cars existed

No, historically carriages have held the right of way, and the higher their occupants social status the more right of way they had.

Well technically it's priority not right of way. My guess is that the concept was only codified with the introduction of traffic laws, which in most places didn't happen before the 20th century. Until then, "priority" in land probably came down to common sense: size, conventions, and social status.

Yes, horses take priority. That's true on nature trails too. Automobiles don't inherit anything from horses and horse-drawn carriages.

Pedestrians existed before carriages, too

For the safety of the pedestrians. It signals clearly to large vehicles at a safe distance for them to stop that they MUST stop, so that there are fewer accidents due to lack of visibility of the actual pedestrian.

Where I live (Victoria BC), we don't have many pedestrian lights, but pedestrians definitely do not have priority in crosswalks.

Pedestrians here make sure that there are definitely no cars moving anywhere near the crosswalk, and no one potentially wanting to make a left turn, before venturing out.

I prefer the laws where its linked to distance ot intersection. Which in practice means you can jaywalk on open roads but not near intersections where the risk is less obvious and cars could catch you out. Good compromise

the energy cost of a car coming to a full stop is very large though. if you're going to have cars in the city at all, you should have a system of one-way streets with synchronized lights so vehicles rarely come to a full stop. letting pedestrians interrupt this whenever they feel like crossing is not only annoying, but leads to much higher gas consumption.

Do trains stop for pedestrians crossing the tracks where you’re from? That sounds very inefficient.

Where there are no lights, pedestrians have right of way in Canada. Even though forcing a stop on the gasoline powered vehicle with much more momentum is strictly less efficient than making the pedestrian wait, it stuck as an arrangement, that made for a more enjoyable and relaxing city experience.

Which Canadian province is this? Here in Manitoba cars have right of way away from intersections. Pedestrians are responsible for avoiding a collision.

Canada has a very intense car culture. What you are describing has to be some sort of local exception.

Interesting! My experience was based around Nova Scotia.

However, I actually meant at intersections (which is, I guess, where I mostly crossed streets). This arrangement was new and refreshing to me.

However, it is of course reasonable that pedestrians can not assume to just walk on a street everywhere, at any time.

Trains and trams are exempt from those rules, and not just pedestrians, but everyone.

That’s not a fair comparison. Hundreds of tons of train of 100kmh take several km to stop.

I am not sure what you mean with this effectiveness. I live in Prague, the city with (what they say) one of the best public transport systems in the world, and yet, going to my workplace is 45 minutes by public transport and 15 minutes by car. Even though I live close to a subway and tram station, and the workplace is right in the city center, car still wins - where is the effectiveness you're talking about? This is the case for my past 3 workplaces and 2 homes. Sorry but my time is more valuable than waiting an hour per day just because.

Before you say that I can read or listen to music on the way in public transport, I listen to audiobooks in the car, and the trams are lately so packed that for me it's especially hard to not puke because of the terrible air (and sometimes smelly people, luckily not that much in winter) there, sadly I would puke right into someone's face. Even though there is a lot of traffic which slows my car down, I am still in comfort. I'd rather sit 45 minutes in a car listening to wonderful music than be pushed inside a can full of people for the same time, and given the traffic, I am not the only one thinking the same.

First improve public transport, make it at least a tiny bit comfortable, then hate cars, not the other way around, that just won't work.

(let the downvotes rain... What did I expect, a discussion? Lol)

I think that in order to have a good discussion it would help if you could explain why public transport is slower in your case.

Is the route longer because there isn't a line that goes straight from your home to your workplace?

Is it because there aren't a lot of trains, so they take too long to arrive?

Otherwise it's hard to tell what the problem with public transport in your city.

I live in London for instance, where cars are _almost always_ the slowest option for trips around zones 1-2 or even 3, because the center is always very busy. So when commuting here the fastest option is usually cycling, then 5-10 minutes slower is public transport and driving, which depending on the time of day will also be slower...

Public transit is only faster than cars when they have an "unfair" advantage. I'm guessing (I haven't been there) by London zone 1-2 you means trips where the subway (tube you call it?) gets transit out of the way. Other useful "unfair" advantage are trains - because they cannot stop - preempt traffic, and there are also transit only lanes where cars are not allowed. Anytime transit doesn't get some advantage over traffic it is slower because it has the same traffic plus the additional non-traffic stops it needs to make. For long distance trips transit is often faster.

The unfair advantage is not cost effective to grant to all cars, but still need to be acknowledged.

In a city where the availability of land is a major limiting factor, you could argue that cars are the ones getting an "unfair advantage" - 8 square meters of city surface permanently dedicated to moving oneself around is clearly an inequitable use of space.

One of several reasons I put unfair in quotes.

There's multiple issues with your anecdote (one of course it being an anecdote, not a statistic); to focus on the main ones:

- you're looking at individual efficiency rather than system: in particular the fact that public transport is made less efficient by people driving. You're describing a chicken-egg problem if you want improvements in public transport

- you're focused on time as a metric, not accounting for economic cost (both individual and municipal: car infra is expensive), and other costs (health, env)

If I live next to a subway and tram stations (trams have dedicated tracks not shared with car in most places here) and the car is still a better option, it's an issue with the public transport system and people driving do not make it much worse. The subway is not affected at all and yet the number of trains per hour has stayed constant for years.

What is your point exactly?

That it is possible that there a few individuals for whom driving is more advantageous than public transport? Of course, it is possible.

Is it likely that if everyone drove instead of taking public transport driving would become unbearable for everyone, you included? Of course again.

So what are you arguing for exactly? That everyone should drive? Are you looking for absolution for liking to drive? Are you looking for an arrangment where it is ok if you drive but not others?

I don’t exactly understand the point either. Public transit is clearly more efficient when you look at it from a system perspective. A subway can carry 30000/person per hour and a car lane full of cars at 1.2 person/car isn’t anywhere close from those numbers. What is there to argue really? I’m sure you can get door to door faster in a car when you have an empty road and follow a path that doesn’t exist on public transit but you can’t argue that if everyone was driving that it would scale in any kind of way better. Car lanes are just not carrying the same amount of passengers on top of requiring a parking space on both end (which is highly expensive real estate in any larger city)

Problem is most people are going from door to door, while your transit system makes you go to wherever it stops. Unless transit has some other large advantage it is going to be a worse choice for most individuals even given traffic. (separate tracks are a large advantage - but only if the tracks more or less go close to where you want to end up)

You misunderstood the question - not "is it better for me for this trip to drive or take a train?" but "is it better for me to have a city where people only drive or where many people take the train?"

I understand the question. However I reject it because the question gets those asking it where they want to be. If you want to make changes to make things "better" then you need to ask the right questions. The question isn't wouldn't it be nice if everybody takes transit - or even nearly everybody (acknowledging those that need to travel with a truck full of tools/parts). The useful question is how do you get the next potential rider on and keep the existing riders from buying a car when they have money.

A few = hundreds of thousands cars daily? That's not "a few" to me (out of 1.5 million citizens city).

You are experiencing what it means to live with a good public transport system and spare capacity on the roads. If the roads are not congested, car which doesn't need to make stops is faster, but when the congestion increases then public transport with dedicated tracks/lines wins.

Is it possible that your easy car commute is made possible by nature of an effective public transit system removing cars from the road? And that without comprehensive transit you would have 45 minutes of traffic by car?

Of course, there are many people for whose public transport is the best option, especially anyone living right in the city centre, and people living in the major population hubs (there are 5 or more significant ones). I am not any of these, and yet I am being asked to move to public transport - so I say, first make the public transport work for me as well as it works for them.

public transport and cars often share the same medium, it's almost always impossible to improve public transport without impairing life of car drivers and be accused of car hating.

also public transport is not there to help you shave off minutes from commute time, it's there for those who don't have the option of going by car.

I am already paying enough taxes to not be happy with paying for nothing with my own time on top of that. Every year the tax rate increases but the number of trams and subway trains is still the same.

The first result shows that's not true, and Prague has been building/extending lines and buying new vehicles.


They are extending into suburbs, not anywhere it's relevant to most Prague citizens (extended city to city centre). They even decreased the number of trams going from our stop (a pretty major one, because it's the nearest city stop for the airport) into the city centre, and the number of subways is constant.

The D line is a meme at this point, it is supposed to be finished for 20 years now.

It is (almost) the same for every city, if you compare driving times from suburbs to city centre. The reason is that city train/metro/tram needs to stop on 15+ stations before reaching the inner city.

Still, to me, train is superior - I can just sit and relax. Driving is much more tiring. 15 minutes or so difference is not worth it.

For suburb to city center, you want multi-track train lines which only stop at a few stations and then switch over to a middle track which then goes the rest of the way downtown without stopping. The suburb I grew up in was about 20 miles outside of Chicago and the rush hour express train would get you downtown in about 25 minutes whereas doing the same route by car would take you 40-100 minutes during rush hour.

In Prague, subway does not go to suburbs. Few trams do, but they do not reach the city centre. Not my case at all. The subway route I compare to car is 7 stops + 10 min walk.

What kind of awful subway is it, that takes 35 minutes to drive 7 stops?

I just checked a Rotterdam subway line and it does 30 stops in an hour[0] which is a ~32KM distance as a bird flies[1].

[0] https://www.ret.nl/home/reizen/dienstregeling/metro-b.html [1] https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Nesselande,+Rotterdam/Hoek+v...

That's quite unusual that the traffic is light enough. How much are you paying for parking?

Nothing, I own my parking places (both home and office ones)

Also an unusual situation! In central London parking places are an expensive capital asset: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/news/london-parking-space-g...

From my experience, your anecdote generalizes very well across most of the EU. You're being downvoted because HN has a particularly loud car hating bubble. Luckily, there are very few places these people have any meaningful chance of imposing their views on the rest of us.

What does it mean to "impose" their views?

Do you mean that car ownership is disincentivized by making people bear more of the cost of their car ownership?

No, the two questions you ask have very little to do with each other. There's a perfectly reasonable debate to be had about the externalities of different modes of transportation, but that is not what I'm referring to.

I'm referring to a relatively small (but very vocal) segment of almost uniformly young and able bodied city dwellers with a fairly narrow and very strongly held set of views about what city life should look like. These people seem to want to hijack urban planning and tax policy to legislate in the exclusive interest of their preferred lifestyle without regard (and often with outright contempt) for the views of their fellow citizens. That's what it means to "impose" their views.

My prediction is that if and when any of this makes its way into mainstream discourse and actual policy, the backlash will be severe and rather ugly. This is particularly unfortunate, since there are plenty of real issues with urban planning and transportation, but instead of real debate we have polarized flamewars over trivialized strawmen (essentially "ban cars, maximize density" vs. "freedom and country living").

Lol. Yeah it's those damn millenials that are ruining public debate again.

There's is an equally loud segment of older car drivers who complain about the so called "war on cars" everytime somebody wants an alternative to driving.

> Lol. Yeah it's those damn millenials that are ruining public debate again.

I didn't assert that. As far as I can tell it's a tiny minority of millenials.

> There's is an equally loud segment of older car drivers who complain about the so called "war on cars" everytime somebody wants an alternative to driving.

They might be equally loud somewhere, but certainly not on HN. Also not in most EU countries as far as I can tell, but I don't presume to speak more broadly than that.

All other vehicles have lights for them, either for them to stop or have other vehicles stop for them (in the case of trains)

It's natural that a locking mechanism would evolve for all cases. It's not a matter of being a car-centric monster, it's a matter of organizing traffic.

> Without lights, pedestrians would always have first priority on a crosswalk

Not all pedestrians cross in a crosswalk or look at what they're doing when they cross. Sure, let me stop abruptly for the pedestrian crossing right in front of me. Or in some situations pedestrians are always crossing (city-center)

This works (mostly) for slow streets or very low pedestrian traffic (and car) ones.

> hus, it is no wonder that any sensible person wouldn't cross the street on red if there are no cars coming.

Completely agree

> Sure, let me stop abruptly for the pedestrian crossing right in front of me. Or in some situations pedestrians are always crossing (city-center)

This is the price you pay for deciding to drive a car in a city. If you choose a less lethal (to others) form of transportation, you'll have to yield less frequently.

The general principle of yielding downward (in terms of size of the conveyance) is hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years old, and is more sensible today than ever.

The problem is not yielding, the problem is yielding with too short of a notice to people who think cars have zero inertia.

Physics doesn't care who's right or wrong.

Edit: I'm not talking about crosswalks, I'm talking about people crossing outside of them

If it's so dangerous, maybe we should get the cars out of the places where people are walking around a lot. Since the primary purpose of a city is for people to get business and life done, and not to move cars from one side of it to the other.

People should be able to cross outside of crosswalks, because the cars should be driving fast somewhere else, or driving at a safe speed in the city. That safe speed is far, far slower than I expect Americans or Australians are comfortable with. We are talking walking pace or slower.

The benefit of slowing cars down that much in a CBD is it makes it very obvious and intuitive that cars are the lower priority in the CBD. It makes it so cumbersome to drive through city areas that it is self regulating as people stop driving their cars through unless they absolutely must.

Pedestrianization is a thing in a lot of places outside the US and UK. But whenever it is proposed in the US or UK, the usual suspects turn pink with rage and claim that removing cars from the city centre will kill the high street (spoiler alert: it doesn't)

Pedestrianization streets has made some better and others worse. It depends. Generally it makes things better when there are already a lot of Pedestrians around, while it makes things worse when most people are driving there anyway. Most people proposing pedestrianization point only to the success and fail to ask if the situation is the same here. (Those opposed don't seem to be aware of the failures)

I am familiar with pedestrianized streets in several cities, they still have traffic on the surrounding street and at the street for freight and at specific times.

   If it's so dangerous, maybe we should get the cars out
   of the places where people are walking around a lot. 
   Since the primary purpose of a city is for people to get
   business and life done, and not to move cars from one 
   side of it to the other.

This is why level-headed observers dismiss opinions on HN to be thoroughly foolhardy, tone-deaf and impractical.

People use cars for a variety of reasons - convenience just being one of them.

One's safety in public places (which cant be guaranteed in public transit atleast to the same degree as offered by motor vehicles), security from riffraff & sinister actors, protection from the elements in even slightly inclement weather, securing & securing valuables (like an expensive laptop or other gadgets) to & from work or otherwise, to receive & place phone calls when commuting in a private & noise-free environment, to enjoy a meal / breakfast while commuting (most transit options forbid eating foods or even drinking liquids) and a whole host of other reasons too long to list here - are all reasons why people prefer cars over transit.

Its foolish to dismiss cars as just A-to-B conveyance method for human bodies.

I realize I created a dichotomy in my first post, the issue is more nuanced than that of course, removing cars entirely would never by my solution.

My reasoning to de-prioritize cars is simply that cars protect only some individuals at a high cost to everyone else in the city. They do it without solving the underlying issues, in some cases making them worse.

For most cities, focusing on cars takes resources (space/time/money) from systems that would otherwise help everyone in the city, like public transport and better amenities. Things like wider shared walking/biking paths, better lighting, safer public toilets and public spaces.

Cars create enormous amounts of noise, pollution and danger, and take up square miles of real estate, while getting in the way of everyone else. There's often dozens to hundreds of people waiting in the weather for just a handful of cars at one intersection alone. I forget how many times me and 20 others have to spend 10 minutes standing in the 40c heat waiting for five cars to muddle their way over the road.

The kicker is it doesn't even work that well, most cities with heavy car traffic are highly congested. Filling the space with pollution, noise and generally getting in the way while they barely achieve their own goals. Then when it's not so busy, the pedestrians are waiting for nothing. The car infrastructure itself is what's in the way. Increasing walking times, distances and exposure to the elements for everyone.

Not everyone can afford a car based metro commute either, parking alone can be prohibitively expensive. By focusing on cars, you're also creating a very tangible gap between those who get to enjoy the luxury of their car and those who have to stand in the sun/rain/snow/danger/noise and suffer. If you focused on making a better city instead of better roads, you could make it better for everyone.

None of those conveniences is more valuable than the human lives that are lost in traffic accidents. Such deadly traffic accidents could be prevented if the speed limit inside city centers was reduced to the level the OP is suggesting. Or if city centers were pedestrianised, etc.

Also, you really shouldn't be "receiving and placing calls when commuting" in your car. Hands-free included.

Finally, I struggle to see how you can "enjoy a meal" when you have to drive. Unless you're driving at the suggested walking pace, that is.

   None of those conveniences is more valuable than the
   human lives that are lost in traffic accidents. 
Again, cherry-picking cars or vehicular traffic, as some how a convenience that puts way too many lives at risk is just absurd.

We, as a society in modern times, weigh the trade-offs of many deadly and even fatal things and allow them, only if the net good is far too great to be ignored or sidelined. There are well established norms, standards and guidelines to vet those "net goods" as well. These things arent arbitrary decisions we make over a whim or fancy.

If horses and buggies were even 60% as "efficient" or rated 60% as good as any motor-vehicular form of transport I'm sure you would still see them on streets despite the downsides.

They arent. Thats why we dont see them (unless you count communities such as the Amish or Irish travelers racing horses on roads). They arent even half as good as cars, when you consider _all the factors_.

Despite all the downsides ( like pollution which should be a non-issue with the advent of electric cars or hydrogen-fueled cars like the Mirai ) cars are an out sized net good.

>> Again, cherry-picking cars or vehicular traffic, as some how a convenience that puts way too many lives at risk is just absurd.

I could point to many other such conveniences that are more harmful than they are useful, e.g. electronic devices that cause much environmental damage, but the discussion is about cars and safety.

Regarding efficiency, this is a very vague term in this context. Cars are certainly more "efficient" than e.g. horse-drawn carts in terms of how much load they can carry but not, e.g. in terms of the fuel they require, or the necessary infrastructure. A horse carriage doesn't need to be mass-produced at a factory, the feed for the horse can be grown cheaply and sutainably and horse-drawn carriages dont' need asphalt roads. So, no, I don't think it's considerations of "efficiency" that is the reason we have so many cars.

I wouldn't dare propose a reason why we do. You seem to be much more convinced you understand the complex economics of the industrial age better than me, and most. I find this a bit hasty.

>> Despite all the downsides ( like pollution which should be a non-issue with the advent of electric cars or hydrogen-fueled cars like the Mirai ) cars are an out sized net good.

Electirc cars still require electirc power to be generated somewhere, somehow and power generation is the major cause of greenhouse gas production. Electric cars only displace the problem of environmental pollution.

Again, it's very vague to speak of a "net good" in this context. As long as there's cars we'll have fatal accidents and environmental pollution. What is the "net" in this case? E.g. how many human lives do we accept to be lost for how many hours gained travelling or carrying goods a certain distance?

These defenses of the status quo are quite weak and are mostly naturalistic fallacy that seems to stem from an ignorance of history. You'd expect better from HN.

> This is why level-headed observers dismiss opinions on HN to be thoroughly foolhardy, tone-deaf and impractical.

To be honest, I always look forward to car threads on HN. They are quite entertaining, even if they are filled with at best weird opinions, misunderstandings of traffic laws, fun beliefs of traffic laws ("pedestrians always have right of way, globally"), and curious ideologies. A space entirely devoid of common sense, mostly populated by people whose experiences are exclusive to a country whose road safety stastistics are indistinguishable from the third world.

People would argue that you were driving too fast if you're unable to stop in a safe manner in front of a crosswalk. I tend to agree.

Of course it is about organising traffic. And that makes sense if that is the only metric you care about optimising. The problem is that other things are obstructed (figuratively and literally) by that optimisation.

>This is totally different from, for example, Copenhagen, Stockholm

That's not right in my experience. Swedes walk across when it's red. Danes wait for green, even when standing by an empty road in the middle of the night. When the Øresund bridge was opened, Swedish television made news spots informing people in Scania that Danish motorist aren't used to people stepping out on the road, and to be attentive spotting danish cars.

I’ve just spent three weeks in Stockholm, and locals seem to generally ignore red lights if there are no cars nearby.

And it's not punishable in Sweden (ie. you can walk the red light, you just have the duty to give way to vehicles and if you cause an accident, then you could be liable.)

Based on the replies, I'm obviously wrong on Stockholm, although I remember otherwise. We walked a lot there, the hotel was way outside the city center.

Maybe it's because I was paying attention to tourists like me who obviously reluctant to cross on red in a foreign country.

In Copenhagen there's a nuance that you're socially expected to wait at marked pedestrian crossings until they're green, but it's ok to cross the road yourself at points where there's no marked crossing (and therefore no lights). People will do this 20m from a marked crossing too.

This extends to people waiting in the middle of the road between traffic flows (usually on wider roads) which in my experience is only common behaviour in countries where jaywalking is not seen as a problem.

In Poland you can be fined when you cross on red, but you are allowed to cross anywherere if crossing is farther than 100 meters (unless there are barriers) and on any intersection without marked crossing. Also pedestrians don't have right of way outside of marked crossings, even if they are about to enter them.

We have a ton of accidents on pedestrian crossings so those rules are probably bad.

>but it's ok to cross the road yourself at points where there's no marked crossing

I'm not sure that it's viewed as OK, but yes, absolutely, people will do this. People will actively walk past a marked crossing, and 10 - 20 meters down the road walk straight out into traffic.

It's amazingly absurd. Rather than wait a few minutes for a green light, some people will prefer to run between moving cars in an attempt to save a little time.

People definitely do that most of the time in Stockholm. If you see someone waiting for the light to turn green with no nearby cars, it's most likely because have kids with them or they're old and walk slow. Jaywalking is also very common.

That's not different at all. Why would Norwegians be different from other humans? I can confirm that Swedes and danes do this too.

And being of croatian descent I can confirm they do it there too. It's not a cultural thing, it's a human thing to be impatient.

If anything it speaks of the flow of traffic.

Here in Sweden you can often safely cross the street because the entire length of the street has lights that work in a pattern. So there are long gaps in traffic due to lights further up/downstream on the street.

Ive been shouted at in Germany for crossing at red light, even with no car in sight, and for how bad an example this was for children at the scene.

Rightly so. Children can't (as reliable as you) decide how safe it is in a given situation to cross.

Surely kids should limit themselves to only crossing on green (well, until they grow out of it) but I've taught my children to watch the cars first, not the lights. A green pedestrian light doesn't mean there are no stray cars running red lights or turning-but-not-yielding. It's cars that injure people, not lights, so focus should always be on cars.

That's not why people get riled up even if they think it is. Adults constantly do things in front of children that children cannot or should not do: cooking, handling power tools, driving cars, smoking drinking, etc.

For the most part, this is not a problem, people just explain their kids that these are things that they cannot do now but will be able to do later (hopefully explaining why).

But people don't put crossing the road at a light in those terms, they tell them nobody can safely cross the road safely when the light is red. So an adult doing just that and being safe directly contradicts your message and your authority. It makes you look dumb. And that's why they get riled up.

We should just treat the red light as an aid for the young and infirm and explain it to kids as just that.

Child was holding the hand of the shouting Oma.

I learned to ignore them. The speed limit on the streets where children frequent are max 40 and even lower around traffic lights. Drivers should keep looking and assume neither children nor adults will follow traffic rules. You just need to learn to be defensive if you are navigating tons of steel inside a densely populated area.

Children learn by imitation. That, and not the fear that the child might run after you (?!), is the reason why it’s frowned upon to cross red lights in front of children.

But shouting at strangers is also a bad example. I hate the unbeatable "but think about the children" argument that seems to haunt many discussions. Let the families educate their own children. Educate the drivers that children may randomly jump to the street, may also stay there and not try to evade or do who-knows-what so they should be more careful driving through the city. That's actually the case in Germany, training for a license includes learning to be ridiculously (but usefully) defensive.

As a cyclist in Malmö, Sweden, I wish I could shout at some people sometimes. But truth is that people cross against red all the time with no consequences.

I stay out of principle.

I have been fined by the police at 4 AM for the exact same thing.

And I lived in Germany for 12 years, crossing redlights probably every day, and was never reprimanded.

This was in Berlin.

I know people that have had similar experiences in Austria

> Why would Norwegians be different from other humans?

Different cultures and legal system. I moved from UK to Poland. Almost everybody walks on red light in UK, almost nobody in Poland - you will get fined for doing so. I don't think anyone was fined for walking on red light in UK.

It's much less common to cross against a Do Not Walk signal in countries like Singapore and Japan. I'm pretty sure they're still human.

Singapore is a good example of road crossing habits being culturally influenced. Jaywalking is unusual behaviour everywhere except the Little India district, where it appears to be compulsory ;-)

As a New Yorker I'll never forget how my first time in LA everyone looked at me like an alien when I crossed the street against the light.

_It's not a cultural thing, it's a human thing to be impatient._

True, but certain cultures see impatience as much worse flaw than other cultures leading to significant cultural differences in, say, crossing roads.

Seriously, if you ever visit Japan it will seem strange but people do almost always wait for the light.

I think this is partly is an illusion created by the wider roads. Longer jaywalking distance discourages jaywalking. For example in the nordics wide roads are uncommon so jaywalking becomes more common and safe.

It's a cultural thing. It even differs a lot by city in the US. In NYC, the mindset is take every inch you can get. In a lot of other places, pedestrians pay attention to walk/don't walk signals more than not.

Normal everywhere in the northeast. People think I'm crazy in CA, as a fairly cautious New England pedestrian.

Also there's a traffic law enabling pedestrians to freely cross the road if there is no obstruction to the traffic.

There's still some people that don't know their limits, but that gives an idea of how this works in practice

I do not see this often in Denmark.

same in the UK.

but more than that, in the UK in any intersection with traffic lights the pedestrians will never have a green light at the same time as cars.

meanwhile, in most countries i've visited making a left or a right turn in an intersection will most likely cause you to stop for pedestrians that also get a green light. frustrating and illogical!

> frustrating and illogical!

That’s certainly a matter of opinion (and as a German currently living in the UK I disagree): Having separate green light for pedestrians means that the average waiting time is much longer (both for cars and pedestrians) and, further, green light times are often kept much shorter. Having simultaneous green light for parallel car and pedestrian traffic does mean you have to pay more attention, and could theoretically increase the risk of accident (but I’m not convinced that this is the case in practice — in my experience it definitely isn’t!). But on the other hand it means that my time waiting at traffic lights is greatly reduced on average. I thus find the UK system a lot more frustrating.

I actually see the point of the UK system and think it’s entirely defensible. But both systems have their pros and cons.

I'm in the US, which also allows cars and peds to share a "green" in the same direction. I regularly have cars nearly run me over when they turn left/right while I'm in the crosswalk with a valid crossing signal. The problem, in the US, is that drivers don't give a shit about anybody but themselves. They are completely self-centered.

If there were penalties for hitting pedestrians or cyclists, this might change. I presume Germany has stricter enforcement of rules with regard to vehicle/ped/cycle interaction. In the US, there is almost none. Hitting a pedestrian or cyclist is almost always deemed an accident, with no fault assigned (or, if fault is assigned, a $200 fine is the result, not loss of driving privilege).

> Hitting a pedestrian or cyclist is almost always deemed an accident, with no fault assigned (or, if fault is assigned, a $200 fine is the result, not loss of driving privilege).

This is common also in Sweden, but parallel green still generally works well. So enforcement cannot be the only explanation.

Two other things come to mind... - culturally, people in the US just don't walk for transport (outside NYC and a few other places). So, when they get in cars, they don't think to look for pedestrians or cyclists.

- the roads are more car-centric than European cities and suburbs. Crossings are poorly timed, poorly lighted, too wide, in the wrong places, etc.

”in the UK in any intersection with traffic lights the pedestrians will never have a green light at the same time as cars.”

3-phase signalled intersections (where pedestrians get a green signal to cross in all directions) are a relatively new development in the UK. They’re certainly common in London but I’d be very surprised if they’re rolled out to all intersections the UK.

I don't think that was the point they were making. They were saying that, here in the UK, if the light is green for you as a pedestrian, there is a guarantee - legally enforceable - that traffic cannot cross your path. Unlike in, say, many other European cities and - ime - ny city.

Worst thing for pedestrians and cyclist is "turn right on red" rule.

If you want to turn right (in right handed flow) you can enter intersection on red (in Poland when additional green right arrow is lit up) but you have to yield to everybody, also pedestrians (that have green at the time).

In theory you are required to stop before you enter on red but most drivers don't and some don't even slow down more than is physically required to make a turn.

So if a cyclist or a pedestrian appears in path of such car unexpectedly (because there might be high vehicle waiting for green on the next lane) it is a dangerous situation.

Right on green is pretty brutal as well. A cyclist is going to keep moving forward and completely depends on the visibility of the drivers turn signal, assuming they decide to use it.

Been around in other cities for as long as I remember. The nearest junction to where I grew up in Glasgow in the 80's allowed crossing in all directions at one time.

Only European country I know about that has pedestrians on green crossing cars is Germany.

And I live in Europe.

Also France.

And Italy!

You have to stop at crossings yes, and it makes sense. Usually when there's a red light in one direction, the one perpendicular to it will have a green light.

Dublin is similar to the UK as far as I could tell, and honestly it felt like one of the worst design of traffic lights ever. Waiting for 2-3 minutes on a red light is pretty common, and green only lasts for 20-30 seconds. It's an absolute disaster for pedestrians, and as a result everyone jaywalks like crazy. I would say other countries have this right, even if drivers do have to give way to pedestrians immediately after a turn.

On Dublin: 20 seconds green for pedestrians is on the generous side. "Scramble" type light sequences for pedestrians are few. Often only one or two arms of junctions have any pedestrian signal, which probably further confuses visitors. Cyclists selectively disregard road markings/signs/signals and frequently compete with pedestrians during crossings.

In some areas extra lights for new cycle paths operate asynchronously to the road traffic lights, these can be within 25m, worsening the gridlock and the pedestrian invasion of junctions.

In city centre areas a 30kmph speed limit is in force. A green for a motorist only ever means "proceed with caution", and a pedestrian already crossing the road at a junction always has priority (something many drivers don't seem aware of). Urban road user mortality is ~50% higher than Sweden, still relatively low compared to the EU overall, but the pending 2019 stats are worse.

if you combine the red light for pedestrians with no fine for jaywalking if you don't cause issues, then the british/irish model starts to make sense :)

This is the case here - many pedestrian crossings aren't guarded by lights but by stripes on the road. There is one beside my work which is incredibly poorly timed. It turns green for pedestrians about 10 seconds after a traffic light goes green for cars further down the road - where it takes about 9 seconds for cars to accelerate to ~40kph and reach the crossing. I've personally seen one person get hit (driver sped off, obviously) and countless near-misses because of this, and I've no doubt it will get someone killed one day.

Send an email to your city and explain the problem.

"Green at the same time" in the UK is flashing-amber and means "if free, proceed with caution".

Nearby, in a shopping/student district, there is a dual-carriage-away with high pedestrian crossing flow. It is only green for pedestrians for a few seconds before going to flashing-amber for both. It makes some sense as it's so wide that many cars can pass while people are still crossing.

However, as a pedestrian, I really hate it and feel unsafe. It rewards driver aggression because they treat it as green try to intimidate pedestrians by racing at any that are crossing or thinking about it.

Ultimately I think it angers both parties because each one thinks they have right of way and the other party is in error when really the flashing-amber has made it ambiguous and turns it into "aggressor wins".

I heard that the convention was to set the duration of the amber stage to something around the time it takes a fast-walking pedestrian to cross, so that you could start crossing near the end of a pedestrian green signal without being on the road during green for drivers. Unfortunately at some crossings these days, the full duration of the green signal isn't long enough for me to fully cross before it turns to amber (and I probably walk about 4x faster than your garden-variety old dear with a stick).

“Right on red” in the US is a disgrace :-)

I think it’s explicitly permitted by law in Sweden at least. It’s illegal in Finland (where I’m from), in theory at least, and I do think that should change. Pedestrian red light should mean ”may cross but must yield to other traffic”, ie. equivalent to the yield sign for vehicles.

It is explicitly permitted[1] in Norwegian law as well -- the law states that you may cross on a red light if it's not hindering any vehicle or dangerous.

[1] https://lovdata.no/dokument/SF/forskrift/2005-10-07-1219/KAP...

Yeah, I thought so but wasn’t sure.

This could also explain the low (or 0) deaths. When you're going against the system i.e. crossing or contemplating crossing the road without the instruction of the pedestrian traffic light, you're usually more alert to your surroundings. I cross the street at will in Berlin, and even on a one-way street I still look both ways to be extra sure.

I can confirm that bicyclists often cross the street on red light. Almost every biker uses helmets in Oslo. In the netherlands you rarely see any helmets on bicyclists.

In Germany, people generally do ignore red lights when there are no cars around. The big exception is when kids are present. Crossing a red light when a kid is watching you can get you reprimand by strangers, or will earn you dirty looks at the least.

It's worth noting that Oslo has a lot of zebra crossings (pedestrian crossings that are not controlled by lights, with pedestrians having right of way over cars). They are at most junctions and regularly spaced along business districts and residential roads.

So when you're driving around Oslo you have to be prepared for a pedestrian to step in front of you at any second. It certainly creates a careful, "slow & steady" driving mentality towards pedestrians. (This does not necessarily make them safer drivers at other times. Immigrants to Norway often discuss amongst themselves how bad Norwegian drivers can be.)

I do the same when I am on my bicycle as long as there are no cars approaching. Particularly if I'm crossing a moderate speed highway. It's safer for me to clear the intersection when there are no cars moving in the same direction (or worse, wanting to make a right turn as I start moving). Unfortunately, I'm in America, where that is a moving violation in my state.

Uhm, Stockholm is most definitely not an "obey the light" city for pedestrians.

Live in Stockholm. And no, pedestrians don't give a darn about traffic lights (except when needed).

In Norway it is not illegal to cross on red. What's illegal is to cause danger in traffic, which might be the case when cars pass.

In Stockholm it’s really common to jaywalk. There is a law against it, but there is no punishment unless you caused a dangerous situation so you’re not going to get stopped by the cops for doing so.

Also I was quite suprised the first time I heard of it being on to run a red light if you’re turning right. This is not legal AFAIK in all of Scandinavia nor the majority of Europe.

I'd suggest not even using the word 'jaywalk'. It's a propaganda word.

I live in Copenhagen and bicycle/walk daily, and I see people crossing when it's red at every single intersection. I also see bikes going back and forth on pedestrian lanes.

cit. "They're like Italians of the north"

I'd like to stress that Italy is quite diverse throughout and not all us Italians resemble the stereotype. Happy new year.

Having lived in both the US and Europe, it's definitely less frequent in the US. But only because the streets are much wider making it scarier.

I think you are talking about jaywalking, but Europe and the US are really big.

In LA you get a ticket for jaywalking, while in NYC everyone crosses anywhere including weaving though moving traffic. And some cities in Maine the pedestrian always has the right away at cross walks and otherwise don't have lights.

pedestrian always has the right away at cross walks

Isn't that the very point of a crosswalk?

Most crosswalks I come across are only the designated safe place to cross. You still have to wait for the light.

No, in Sweden we also cross when there are no cars nearby. At least in Stockholm and Gothenburg.

> One interesting observation on Oslo is that, pedestrians do cross the street when it's red for them

This is mostly true for Germany as well. At least in big cities.

Ever been to Amsterdam? Its crazy here

Haha, was going to post this. Nobody waits for the lights in Amsterdam or any of the other sizable Dutch cities. Maybe part of that is that if you walk through a red light and get hit by a car the driver still takes at least 50% of the blame? And speeds in the inner city are very low due to bikes and now small scooters being on the same roads as well.

In Stockholm people do cross at the red light, it's a Stockholm thing to do :)

However, people try not to do that when there are children present.

Applications are open for YC Winter 2021

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact