At a crossroads

In Israel, crosswalks are based on an honor system that’s not quite black and white.

December 8, 2016 15:43
3 minute read.
crossing a road

A woman crossing a road (illustrative). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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 When I moved to Jerusalem from New York more than a year ago, I was struck by this city’s reliance on zebra crossings – white-striped pedestrian walkways that traverse Jerusalem’s busy, car-choked streets like gauze. In many spots there are no traffic lights signaling cars to slow down or stop. It’s up to drivers to notice if there is someone waiting to cross.

In New York, crosswalks are governed by traffic signals, and drivers must stop on red whether or not there are any pedestrians in sight. (That’s not to say that the law is always obeyed.) Here, however, zebra crossings are based on an honor system that’s not quite black and white. How close to the crosswalk does a pedestrian have to be to warrant an approaching vehicle to stop? What if a person is approaching the crosswalk but is still a few steps away? That judgment call is left to drivers. And a lot rides on their exercise of discretion.


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