UPchicago Field Guide, Chapter 2: Crossing the Street

chicago busy street
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Urban living is an adventure. This manual provides information and describes basic techniques that will enable you to not only survive, but more importantly enjoy city life.


Chapter 2: Crossing the Street

No matter what part of Chicago you frequent, you will at some point cross a city street. You may be scoffing at this chapter, thinking to yourself, “I know how to cross a street. It’s not like crossing a street in (insert where you hail from) is any different than in Chicago.” Wrong. I don’t care if you’re from Times Square or a town of 50 people, there is a right and wrong way to cross the street.

1. Cross at the crosswalk. In 99% of situations, you need to head to the corner to cross the street. That other 1% of situations includes being chased by someone wielding a machete or a pack of rabid dogs. Otherwise, make your way to the corner like everyone else. People who stroll out in the middle of the street into traffic A.) could be hit and B.) are a major annoyance for drivers. Don’t be that jerk.

2. Keep a good pace. This does not mean you have to do that awkward half-jog to the other side of the street, just do not saunter as if you’re moseying across a golf course instead of a busy road. If you are in no hurry, that’s all right, but try not to stroll across haughtily as other people/drivers want to get around you.

3. Be savvy when you walk. Yes, it is OK to walk when you have the red hand signal instead of the white pedestrian IF you are smart about it. If I cannot see oncoming traffic in either direction, I will walk. But if my crossing will force a driver to either yield or hit me, I will not. You do not have to stand on the corner waiting for the stoplight to run your life and tell you when to go. Use your best judgment.

4. Hurry to the outside. If you need to get somewhere fast and you are crossing the street with a large mass of people, stay to the outside edges. Trying to bulldoze your way through the thick of the crowd is not going to get you anywhere. Especially during rush hour. Veer to the outside and you will have an easier time passing the slow, meandering people who always seem to take up the entire crosswalk.

5. Listen up. My iPod gets me through my commute. I love it. But sometimes my music drowns out the dulcet tones of what is going on around me. This can pose a safety hazard if I am not paying attention. If you wear headphones, look before you walk out in the road because that Rick Astley song may prevent you from hearing a car coming.

Until next time, urban safariers, I’ll see you out there.

Jamie Hansen

About Jamie Hansen

I like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. And I still love reading newspapers. After growing up in the suburbs I took a four-year Chicago hiatus to the University of Iowa where I majored in journalism and English. Now I’m back and ready to help you make the most of the Windy City. As Kanye says, I’m a Chicagoan until Chicago ends… but I wouldn’t mind a vacation home in Florida.

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