How to Confuse Motorists

Recently, I’ve witnessed a really strange phenomenon: people deliberately crossing against the light at traffic-light-controlled intersections. I’m not talking about coming up to the corner while the light is red, and deciding to cross anyway (with or without waiting for a break in the traffic that has the light). I’m talking about specifically waiting until the light turns red, then crossing.

So, something like this: the person gets to the corner, and the light is green in the direction they want to go. They stand there and wait. As soon as the light turns red in the direction they want to go, they start crossing the street. It seems to be on the rise. I’ve witnessed numerous incidences of this, and several variations:

A group of middle-aged people cross half of a street, to the median, with the light. But that was the half that traffic could conceivably be turning into (and, in this particular case, traffic that wants to make a left turn into that street is just coming off a hard left on a high-speed road, and thus has poorer-than-usual visibility). They then, rather than cross the other half of the street—remember, this is with the light at this point—stand around on the median, until the light changes. Only then do they start to cross the rest of the street. And, in fact, they don’t even start crossing as soon as the light changes, they start crossing as soon as the traffic begins to roll, thus necessitating everyone coming to screeching halt, just as they’re starting up. So, to recap: they crossed the half of the street where turning vehicles might be a danger, without any concern. They did not cross the half of the street where the traffic was stuck at the light, unmoving. They did cross that half once said traffic was moving (and had the green light).

A young woman comes up to the corner and stops. She waits until the light in the direction she wants to cross is red, and then begins to cross. Upon reaching the other side, she then waits, once again, until the light has changed, so that she can cross the other direction, also against the light.

Is there something going on that I should know about? Or are they just stupid? Is this some sort of misguided overblown fear of getting hit by a right-turner? ‘Cause, you know, vehicles can still turn right on red, so you still have that worry. In addition to all the traffic that has a green light and might not be looking for folks crossing against the light.

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