The German radical Left Party wishes to deregulate walking

From Greek bailouts to traffic signals, Germans pride themselves on respecting the rules. But on the latter point at least, even some here believe that fixation has gone too far. All this standing and waiting by cyclists and pedestrians is killing the appeal of muscle-powered locomotion, critics say.

Germany’s radical Left Party, the biggest opposition force in parliament, now wants to do something about this obsession. In November, the party plans to introduce a motion that would end red-light fines for pedestrians and bikers.

There is more here, via Samir Varma.


I am the fastest gunslinger.

In Norway it's not illegal for pedestrians to cross on red and I think we're better off for it. Red just means watch out.

After midnight in Queens, NY numbers of drivers act as if red lights as optional.

What's your best time down Queens Blvd from say, Hillside to the 59th St Bridge?

a Fred,

I don't do that. I would go the LIE to Van Dam the bridge. I drive from Floral Park, way eastern Q.

However, traffic Hell broke on me past Wednesday. The FDR (from Triboro Br.) was closed (NYPD officer murdered) all day as I tried to drive my sister to a Dr. appointment on the Upper East Side. Every road I tried was deadlocked. The LIE had two accidents (Junction and Woodhaven BLVD.) in eastern Queens. In nearly 50 years driving it was near the worst.

Public transit and traffic have gotten just awful under Di Blasio. Its unbearable on some days. Maybe its not his fault directly, but it's way worse than I recall from 2-3 years ago.

The Greens don't enjoy walking as much as they hate the automobile and what it symbolises: capitalism.

Then I'm surprised they weren't the ones to propose this change. Cool comment though.

Well, always so interesting to see one of MR's ever so well informed commenters having difficulty distinguishing between the previously radical Grüne and the now fashionably radical Linke. Probably the words 'radical' and 'Left' throwing them off.

It is not hard at all. Linke is what you get when the nuttier Greens merge with their former Stasi handlers. Simple.

They're all watermelons.

Green on the outside, red on the inside.

Godwin's quotient. Clever girl.

"he automobile and what it symbolises: capitalism."

Funny then how widespread urban motoring requires soviet-style command and control central planning and mandates over zoning, parking, floor area ratios, and land use. And how highways are heavily subsidized and dependent on eminent domain expropriation. And how cities built without extensive planning, mandates, and subsidies for motorcars somehow end up being the most pedestrian friendly and motorcar hostile ones in the world.

The automobile is dependent on communism. Walking and transit are freedom and free markets.

It's a curious thing in Germany but not sure it has an effect in short distances covered by walking. I stayed in Kopenick and once you pushed the button, it took perhaps 1 or 2 minutes to change to green for pedestrians. In other countries you push the button and a few seconds later you can cross. Sometimes I feel weird because I'm the only pedestrian making wait.

There should be a reason why wait times are longer compared to the little then she I live. Cars have preference, city car traffic is disrupted, discourage trolls from trolling, etc.

However, waiting for a green light is a minor annoyance compared to cyclists sharing the space with pedestrians. Cyclists are rude and aggressive, worsethan people on cars

Why should cars have preference? I cross red signs all the time, since the waiting times at traffic lights are beyond ridiculous sometimes...

Hell is for people like you.

Cyclists are responsible for far fewer pedestrian injuries and deaths, and each individual cyclist takes up far less space than one person in a car (plus bikes don't honk loudly or create pollution). It's possible that there's some systematic difference in politeness between the two modes, but as a pedestrian I'd much rather have more bicyclists and less car traffic.

the little then she I live

Is that supposed to be "the little town in which I live"?

I thought it was legal. It’s like a warming sign and it’s up to you to cross, in case of accident drivers can be exempt from charges and that’s it.

In Germany it is not only illegal to walk across the street when there's a red light, but it's also seen as socially unacceptable. At pedestrian crossings there is often a sign saying "Be a role model to children", i.e. by not crossing when the light is red.

I guess the opponents of deregulation have a point in saying that this could lead to more accidents, since most Germans have grown up not having to think for themselves about when it's safe to cross the road.

I grew up in Britain, where it's totally normal to cross the road wherever and whenever you like - and in fact most people would not want to press the button and force the traffic to stop unless they really needed to.

In Germany it is not only illegal to walk across the street when there’s a red light, but it’s also seen as socially unacceptable.

But it's not socially unacceptable to vex and displace the locals by importing truculent foreigners in six-figure job lots. Priorities.

True, this post is kind of irrelevant

***Oops, sorry posted in wrong place

A passerby in Heidelberg once congratulated me for obeying the don't-walk signal in the absence of traffic.

In some jurisdictions, bikers may treat a red light as a stop sign, and a stop sign as a yield sign. This is colloquially called the Idaho Stop. Both policies seem to make sense, reducing the wasteful time spent waiting. See

Who has the right of way in Germany, pedestrians or cars? In some places (e.g., Canada), pedestrians have the right of way (and cars - including, I suppose, driverless cars - must yield). It takes some adjustment, pedestrians walking out into traffic and cars obediently stopping without so much as a raised finger or blast of the horn. In the South where I have a home, drivers would be incensed. Not only wouldn't they stop, they'd speed up for the kill.

In Sri Lanka the cars stop for you at cross-walks. Radical difference from India.

"The Greens don’t enjoy walking..."

We are taliking about the Left Party, not about the Greens; but what you wrote is probably even more true to the Left Party than for the Greens (in the case of the Greens is probably more an hate for industrial society, capitalist or communist, than for capitalism)..

This comment is beyond ridiculous, "the greens hate capitalism" ...

Tomatoes v. Watermelons. Who cares?

True, this post is kind of irrelevant

As a globalized German educated in Jaywalking in India and China, this is a major relief. Sad to say, but another missed opportunity for Liberal Democrats thrown out of Bundestag in 2013 to fight for the liberal cause and leave the field to the former eastern commies.

If a cyclist blows through a red light to make a right turn and a pedestrian crosses the cross-street while also facing a pedestrian red light and the cyclist hits the pedestrian, who is at fault?

I think a lot of people who bicycle underestimate their safe stopping distance and how much damage they can do to themselves and an unlucky pedestrian in a collision. There was a case a few years ago where a cyclist in San Francisco killed a pedestrian he collided with right after blowing through a red light at about 30 mph.

In Germany (at least in urban areas) cyclists usually ride on the pavement/sidewalk, not on the road, so cyclists and pedestrians are used to keeping out of each others' way.

In the US, it would be the ultra conservatives to eliminate fines for ignoring signals, but only for vehicles getting <20 mpg. The walkers can wait, because they are probably on some sort of public assistance.

Your sarcastic comments are lame. I think you need a new gig.

Well, the Commodore seems lost at sea lately, and who knows how often another commentor appears only briefly.

If it hurt your feelings and made you think a little bit--which it appears to--I've won.

No. Your satire isn't subtle enough. 2/10

You actually have some interesting substantive posts and offer an informed dissenting voice in a comments section full of posts by Sailerites and libertarians. Try to stick to what you are good at.

I think there are four or five psychometrics obsessives who post here. Not exactly 'filled'. Not sure who the libertarians are other than the moderators.

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The problem with cars is that, as currently configured, they do not belong on high density city streets. It's ridiculous that cars build for high speed highway travel are roaring through neighborhoods and playing chicken with pedestrians and cyclists.

My idea is that all cars should be required to have cruise control systems tied to a GPS which would sense the municipally-defined speeds within their boundaries. These cruise control systems would limit not only speed but power and acceleration. Within their boundary a city should be able to force cars to adopt the profile of basically a golf cart. I would like to see cars limited to 15mph within dense neighborhoods. Pedestrians and bikes would be much less threatened. If you don't like these limits, then stay out of the city with your car.

Or if you do not like cars, stay off the roads you do not pay for.

I love cars, I just think they should be severely restricted while driving in high density zones. Drive has hard and fast as you want in the suburbs or on the highway or anywhere else that the municipality says it's okay to do so.

Maybe if you protest long enough you can get the cities to reduce their speed limits to 15 mph one day

Would you settle for 18 mph? There are pedestrian-heavy major streets in Vancouver with a 30 km/h speed limit.

A lot of people need to go moderately long distances through these dense zones. And the municipalities don't seem to agree with your assessment of appropriate speed. I'm not sure fatality rates per mile compared to highway travel justify your view either.

A crazy iidea. Cyclists and pedestrians in Toronto do not pay any attention to traffic rules. As a result the accident rates are very high.

There's already a place in the world where walking, cycling and indeed driving are effectively deregulated. It's called India (and Pakistan and Afghanistan and Syria and so on). I wouldn't recommend walking, cycling or driving in these countries. Nevertheless, this might still work in Germany because Germany is full of Germans..... Oh wait.

Nice recommendation of not going there if one does not need to.

As a pedestrian in Manhattan I learned that the secret to making cars stop was to avoid eye contact with the driver (even while keeping the vehicle in one's peripheral vision, just in case it didn't stop) because without eye contact the driver can't be sure you've seen the car.

But if one wished to give pedestrians and bicyclists greater freedom in urban traffic, why not use technology to favor these favored users? Emergency vehicles already have devices which cause traffic lights to turn green for them as they approach a signalled intersection; perhaps a GPS-enabled phone app for pedestrians and bicyclists could be used to give them priority?

The "I can't see you" has worked very well in my experience. The key is to be conspicuous enough that they can't miss you.

An alternative to this is coming to a complete stop in the vehicle's path and staring intensely at the driver. They will also stop, but this is a very confrontational way to assert one's right-of-way, and I would only recommend it as an alternative to shouting, "I'm a giant asshole" in public.

Deregulate walking? What will stop the Germans from going back to goose-stepping? And what will happen to all the employees of the Ministry of Silly Walks?

Will those of Turkish ancestry walk like Egyptians?

Haven't you heard? Now they're all Syrians. "Oops, lost my passport. Syrian, though. Where my free money and where da white women at?"

Re: Germans respecting rules

Heard on BBC, during the London riots rioters queued up in a line waiting to rob a shop.

That's true, but that example is not about following a rule or a law, it's about a social convention.

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