There is a unique feature of London roads that I have not seen in any other country that drives on the same side of the road. The difference is that the road markets are not just for cards and drivers. London markings, especially in crosswalks, are for pedestrians as well as drivers. Each starts with a directive to “Look” in a specific direction.
I wonder about the event that triggered the addition. Did enough visitors look the wrong way and end up hurt that traffic police recommended a change? Whatever the trigger, the signs are at every crossing. They are big, clear, and placed so it is hard for anyone to miss them.
As I took a taxi from Kensington to SoHo I was struck by three incidents. In each, a pedestrian walked up, looked the wrong way, and stepped off the curb. The signs were obvious! It was if each pedestrian had left the thinking at the last coffee shop. If I was watching a single demographic type miss the signs, then I might think it was partially the way the signs were placed, but they represented a mixed group; young and mature, male and female.
In each case, my speeding taxi hit the brakes, one time with wheels sliding, to avoid an accident. One might think that a red light along with warning signs to look would be enough, but it was not.
As I headed out I found myself looking for the big painted words of instruction. While they are everywhere, it is obvious that they have been here for a long time. Some are faded and worn. The lettering is no longer perfect. They are also all in English. I did not any non-European languages anywhere.
Signs reminding us where to look have been around for a long time. On writer left us with one; “Set your mind now on sons – don’t dote on father and grandfather. You’ll set your sons up as princes all over the earth.” (Psalm 45.16)
Even with clear warnings, one cannot assume others are paying attention.