Ever experienced having to run across a busy road, even when you are crossing at a zebra crossing?
Ever experiencing darting in and out trying all sorts of stunts just to cross such roads?
In the West, cars will invariably stop when a pedestrian steps on the designated crossing area.
Even though now more and more cities are using the push-button pedestrian lights in order to allow a more orderly flow of traffics — instead of every few seconds, a car has to stop for a pedestrian, these lights now permit crossing on a need-to-be basis — smaller towns and less congested areas in big cities are still using the zebra crossings and the people there would still stop to allow pedestrians to cross.
To stop at zebra crossings to allow people to cross first has become a routine as well as a habit to the Westerners, and even those Easteners who emigrated there.
In our part of the world, no such habits exist.
We have to depend on individual goodwill to allow us to cross. There are of course many kind souls who would time and again allow people to cross, but on the other hand, at times, you even see people revving up their speed when they see someone walking near the crossings, never mind that to stop and extend the courtesy would cost them less than half a minute of time.
Even in areas where there are push button systems installed , for example in front of my clinic for pedestrians to cross over to the Pudu LRT stations, drivers sometimes would ignore the red lights and dash through.
Often after dashing through, they find themselves stuck behind jams. Why the hurry to forego a civil act and rush to get caught in a jam, I can never understand such mentality.
Someone told me that this is the “kiasu” mentality. But to see in front of you columns of cars stopping because of traffic jam and still not be civil enough to stop for pedestrians, it is more than kiasu, in my humble opinion.
Some said it is the ego thing. Maybe, since Malaysians are known to have so huge ego that they would even be willing to spend millions to get a passenger up in space. But I would rather leave it to the psychologists to say their peice on whether this is the ego thing.
To me, it has a bit of everything, especially the ways children are brought up. The ways children see their parents behaving.
In schools, they are told to stop in zebra crossings to allow pedestrians to cross. But when they attain the age to drive, it is not what the schools have taught them, but the images of how their parents or teachers behaving imprinted in their minds when they were younger that influence them on their subconscious decision not to stop.
I have seen with my eyes old ladies, some in their 60s, running and tripping while trying to cross the crossing near my clinic. To see an old lady who is weak and frail, sometimes carrying a basket of grocery, to try to run across the road is anything but heart-aching.
For those who happen to read this article, perhaps it can serve as food for thought about our own behaviour.
Maybe we can start with a change of our own behaviour, for those of us who are not already practising this civility. Social behaviour is influenced by peer culture and herd instinct, but each doing our own bit, perhaps we can slowly effect a change and make a difference.
City living is stressful, no doubt about it. But to be under stress does not mean that we cannot set a good example for our children to follow.
One day, we are going to grow old; one day, we would need the kind and considerate soul to stop to allow us to cross the road safely and slowly.
Let us hope that that soul maybe your son or grandchild, and let us hope that in future, while the whole nation ages, we would not have to do acrobatic stunts to do the simple things like crossing a road.
(PS. MAny would blame the government and the police. I am not going to discuss that since this is now social bloggings, but i believe all of us have a part to play since social behaviour hinges on peer and herd instinct)