For all the people who may not realize it, laws change not only in different states but also different countries.
Something that may come as a surprise is that the rules between cars and pedestrians are different in England from what they are in the United States.
In the U.S. (This is everywhere I have been, at least, so please correct me if it’s different where you live.), the driver is supposed to yield to pedestrians at legal crosswalks unless they have a “DO NOT CROSS” sign.
In London, if you are a pedestrian, you absolutely need to yield to cars. I had to grab a few girls by the back of their shirt or backpacks before they walked across a crosswalk without a green light for us. I just looked at them and said, “No, they don’t yield to you.”
Side note: If you’re planning to travel to a different country, just go ahead and look up an abridged version of their street laws. You’ll probably save yourself a headache or a collision.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, my friend and I arrived in London a few days ahead of the rest of our tour group, so we had the chance to adjust at our own pace. We stayed in a residential area, which was way less busy than the center of London, so we weren’t immediately thrust into the crazy driving and packed sidewalks. We adjusted to looking right-left-right before crossing the street rather than left-right-left in the U.S., and we figured out how and when to cross safely when we technically (legally) were not supposed to, simply by watching locals.
While we were in London, just in our little suburban area, we were waiting to cross the street, and we watched two or three lanes turning left. None of the cars turned into their respective lane, and neither of us could believe there wasn’t a crash. It was wild.
Some of the streets had stoplights just for pedestrians to cross, especially in the area where we stayed. We quickly learned that we could cross if it was clear rather than waiting for the light to change, but we had to remind ourselves not to cross if a car was near because we were used to having the right of way.
TIP: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. See how locals behave and do the same. You will blend in and have an easier time of getting around.
Sometimes drivers will see you waiting at a crosswalk and stop so that you can cross, even though they don’t necessarily have to. When we visited Abbey Road, we were surprised to find that the crosswalk was not only not separate from traffic but on a very busy street! We would have to wait a few minutes, then both sides would eventually stop and we could run across and back while taking pictures. They would start to get impatient, sometimes honking, and then move quickly as soon as they had the tiniest amount of room to cross.
Abbey Road is really cool and right in front of Abbey Road Studios. It is full of cool graffiti and amazing photo ops, but DO NOT test those drivers. I’m serious.
Always give the right of way to the proper party, and remember this: If you don’t want to follow the law and yield to cars, it will be you vs a 4000-pound metal monster, and you are going to lose.
Be safe and always follow the law. Happy travels!