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Being a pedestrian isn't easy in Aberdeen, Scotland

Updated on April 19, 2009
Aberdeen Castlegate
Aberdeen Castlegate

Aberdeen living

I've been living in Aberdeen for over seven months now, and I still don't feel like I've grasped exactly the protocol in crossing the street here. Upon arrival, I knew going from a right-hand drive country to a left-hand drive country would make for little differences. However I do insist that Aberdeen is a special case.   There are very few stop signs - each corner seems only to have a yield.  Cars will only stop for a crosswalk if it is a 'zebra' crossing (large striped lines painted onto the road).  Pedestrians cannot walk with a green light, they can only walk after all other cars have had their turn, and the green pedestrian crosswalk man comes up - which can take quite a while. I find it quite amusing seeing the number of people who sprint to the corners when they see they will soon have an opportunity to cross - knowing if they miss this opportunity they will be forced to wait a long time for another one to come along.

Case in point: While walking to work one day, I had to cross a very busy 2-lane road. This road was so busy though, that the cars were crawling at a slow pace. Not being stupid and trying to cross somewhere other than a designated area, I approached the cross walk. A cross walk with striped lights, a little island in the middle - yes, a definite cross walk. I get across the first lane to the middle island with no problems. I wait..and wait.. in the middle section. Many cars go by. Then, finally, one driver flashes her highbeams at me. I begin to cross, only to realize she's not stopping. She's not actually flashing her highbeams at me, but at the car in the oncoming lane waiting to turn. She saw my error in judgement, came to a near screeching halt, made frantic hand gestures that look apologetic, and I crossed and went on my way. Normally this would be a frustrating and anger provoking incident. However, it only made me laugh at the ridiculous way the cars view pedestrians here in Aberdeen.

Pedestrians are the lowest on the totempole here in Aberdeen, more so than Glasgow it seems, given our last trip there. While in Glasgow, cars seemed annoyed with our lack of trust at crosswalks, where we waited until they fully stopped and signaled to us before we crossed.  Perhaps it's the booming oil industry that's brought about this cool attitude of the aberdonians.

An old study questions why it is that there are so many more pedestrian casualties from car accidents in Scotland than in the rest of the UK and Europe.  Perhaps if pedestrians were viewed as having priority over crossings it would begin to change these statistics.


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