Of Pedestrians and Pigeons | A Social Commentary On Road Etiquette

Zahra Hasan Society ,,,,,,,

I have been in England for a year and a half, and although I have powerful pangs of nostalgia where I miss the little things about Dubai (yes, Dubai does have a few little things!), I do really like London. While taking the tube home one evening, I was making my way to Victoria Station and I noticed how I had now finally gotten used to the traffic rules and just how dramatically different they are from Dubai.

It took me a good number of weeks to get used to the fact that people in the UK drove on the other side of the road – the right side, rather. There were many occasions on which I’d been angrily honked at by drivers coming at me from foreign parts of the road and me awkwardly hopping to the other side of the street yelling “ah sorry!”. It has undoubtedly been a sight to see, and I have successfully not gotten run over – yet.

On one such occasion, I noticed just how differently the British pedestrians behaved when compared to those in Dubai. In the UAE, it is commonplace to get up-close and personal with random people on the road who just do not give a hoot and will brush up against the front of your car, oblivious to the fact that the road –shockingly enough – has cars on it. Sure, there are times when London’s pedestrians will race in front of your car and give the little green blinking man on the traffic light a run for his money but it’s not as common and they will realise the function of a road. Just today I noticed a few confident Londonders dashing across the road while the red LED man was brightly lit up on the traffic light, indicating pedestrians to keep off the roads. Mostly though, they will press the button on the bottom of the traffic light and wait patiently for the cars to come to a complete halt.

It is rumoured that this button that I so diligently press before I cross the road is known as a ‘placebo button’. It was then that I realised that my whole life had been a lie. Or, just a very minute fraction of it at least.

At least I am certain of one thing – it is much easier to make like a pigeon and cross the street with the rest of the people knowing full well that one has the ability to spread their wings and fly off and mock all the land-wanderers.