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Walk. Don’t walk.

Posted on 2 Feb, 2014 in Culture | 5 comments

Walk. Don't walk.

I don’t know if it is true where you live, but here in Québec City pedestrians cross intersections diagonally. When they are standing on one street corner and need to cross to the kitty corner, Quebecers don’t cross the street twice. They wait for the bright, walking, stick figure, and cross on the bias. Traffic will should stop in both directions, allowing them safe passage across.

If you’ve never done it before, it’s a strange feeling, stepping into that no-man’s land where only cars are supposed to go. It feels like stepping off the roof of a building, hoping the air will keep you aloft. For some reason, it is seems more daring than conventional jaywalking.

Crossing diagonally was a hard truth to come to terms with for this father of a 10-year-old. I had spent seven years teaching my daughter how to cross the street; then we got to Québec City and the customs changed entirely. Today, she walks me across the street. She holds my hand, rolls her eyes, and says, “It’ll be OK, Dad.”

While I have come to take this peculiarity for granted, my tourists are not so blasé. When we reach the first big intersection, I give them the speech I’ve just given you. They watch with apprehension as Québecers stride diagonally across the intersection. I think they need to see that others survive the experience before they are willing to take the walk themselves.

5 Comments

  1. Meme si c est tolere, ce n est pas légal ! la police peut mettre un ticket ! mais bon c est tres tres rare !!
    A montreal ce n est pas du tout pareil !!
    Bises

    • Merci pour la précision, Nathalie ! Ce serait un des règlements le moins appliqués de la ville. Dire que c’est toléré est peu dire.

  2. It’s specific to Québec City. At Montréal theu don’t cross on the biais
    Bye

  3. As for Montreal, like Nathalie mentions, it’s also another special case, but not for the right reasons. On the island, traffic lights are seen as suggestions. Crossing diagonally is therefore akin to a high-stakes game of pedestrian roulette. You should do your next piece on that, Neil – did you know that you are not allowed to turn right on a red light in Montreal? And I mean, only on the island? It’s probably the last place in North America not to allow it. To do so would be to invite further mayhem…

  4. As a Québec city native, I never thought it would be different elsewhere…
    But, you are right: there is only here that pedestrians cross diagonally. I never thought either we could be considered ‘survivors’ by doing that . You really made me laugh! Tks

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