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Jaywalking Behavior Varies by Culture, Study Confirms

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Pedestrian culture varies quite a bit between cities across the world, especially when it comes to crosswalks, according to a new study in Royal Society Open Science (highlighted recently by Science magazine).

Japanese and French researchers teamed up to observe stoplights at four different intersections in Nagoya, Japan and three different sites in Strasbourg, France, hypothesizing that France's individualistic society might encourage people to take more risks than Japan's collectivist one.

They found that out of 1631 Japanese road crossings observed, only 2 percent of pedestrians crossed against the red light. By contrast, French pedestrians crossed against the light almost 42 percent of the 3814 crossings observed. Furthermore, even law-abiding French pedestrians stepped off the curb sooner than Japanese pedestrians when the light finally turned green.

In both countries, the number of jaywalkers increased when no one was around to notice. When no other people were nearby, French pedestrians crossed illegally 67 percent of the time. Japanese pedestrians jaywalked almost 7 percent of the time when no one was around to see it happen. The researchers hypothesize that people are more afraid of judgment from their peers than of getting a ticket from the police. The researchers write that “they are more afraid of being criticized than they are of being fined.”

But city culture isn’t the only thing that influences whether or not people decide to scamper across the street outside the safe confines of a walk signal. People are more likely to jaywalk when the streets have fewer lanes or when there's a median, as well as when the wait time between lights is long, among other things.

This study only examined crosswalk culture in two countries, so it can’t really be extrapolated to the whole world, but perhaps other researchers are at work on international jaywalking behavior. It would be interesting to compare the difference between crosswalk behavior in a place like the U.S., where jaywalking is largely against the law, compared to the UK, where jaywalking fines do not exist.

[h/t Science]

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technology
App Gives Older People More Time to Cross the Street
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Crosswalk signals don’t take into account how quickly different kinds of pedestrians can walk across the street. But maybe they should. A new app currently being tested in the Netherlands allows older people to hold traffic for longer, allowing them more time to cross the street, according to The Guardian.

The Crosswalk app, made by the Dutch transportation technology company Dynniq, alerts traffic signals that someone with mobility issues is waiting. Using GPS and the software that runs the traffic signals, the technology helps traffic signals detect if someone using the app is standing on the corner. If so, the traffic signal’s timing will adjust accordingly.

The app has four settings so that people can adjust how much extra time they’re given, based on their individual needs. That way, someone who only needs a few extra seconds doesn’t leave traffic waiting forever while they’re already on the sidewalk.

The issue with creating a mobile app for older people, though, is that many of them might not be comfortable with smartphones. After advertising in the local paper and holding informational meetings, Dynniq was only able to recruit 10 people to test the app.

Still, there are other possible applications for signal-changing technology. It could be used more generally for people with disabilities or to increase safety during situations like when groups of schoolchildren need to cross the street. It could also be expanded to traffic itself, to create lights that are better timed for bikes (so that cyclists don’t have to start and stop every block) or to create green lights for emergency service vehicles.

Right now, the app is being tested in Tilburg, a city of about 210,000 people, but it's only in use in some areas of town. The current test will run into the fall. If it proves successful, the city will equip more traffic signals with Crosswalk in the future.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Animals
Miami to Host Inaugural Canine Film Festival
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There’s an annual festival dedicated to internet cat videos, so it only makes sense that dog-lovers would create their own film event. As the Miami New-Times reports, the Magic City will host the inaugural Canine Film Festival on July 15 and 16. The fundraising event encourages movie lovers to enjoy submitted flicks with their furry friends.

The festival will take place at the Cinépolis Coconut Grove and Hotel Indigo in Miami Lakes. Festivities kick off on the first day with “A Day at the Movies With Your Dog,” featuring film screenings attended by dogs and humans alike. Other events scheduled throughout the weekend include a dog fashion show, dog yoga, silent auctions, a canine costume contest, an after-party at Miami Lakes' Hotel Indigo, and an awards ceremony.

Admission costs $10 to $1000, and 50 percent of ticket proceeds will benefit local animal rescues and shelters. For more information, visit the Canine Film Festival's website.

[h/t Miami New Times]

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