Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crossing the street

It is rather difficult to believe that the humble pedestrian crossing turns 60 this year, having first been introduced at a thousand sites in Britain in 1949. It was done on an experimental basis, arising from the 1949 UN Conference on Road and Motor Traffic, during a 'Pedestrian Crossing Week'. In 1951, the pattern and the colours of the pedestrian crossing were formalised as the familiar alternating black and white stripes - within no time, they were being called 'zebra crossing'.

Once the zoological reference had been made, Britain seemed to wade into it time and again when naming their pedestrian signs. Apart from the zebra, there is the Pelican (Pedestrian Light Controlled) crossing, the Puffin (Pedestrian User Friendly Intelligent) crossing and the Toucan (Two-can) crossing - and then there is the Pegasus crossing, found near race courses. For more explanations of these crossings, click here.

Chennai doesn't have any animal crossing, other than the omnipresent zebra. This zebra moults, so it's coat has to be re-painted every once in a while. And here are a couple of policemen at it, early in the morning before the traffic starts to pick up. In 2007, the then Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) submitted before the Madras High Court that the city has 310 zebra crossings. That would take some painting, for sure!

And all along, one thought it was only the chicken that crossed the road!

3 comments:

Jacob said...

They are smart to get out their before all the traffic. Much safer!

Anonymous said...

That used to be my old hood 50 years back!
Where V.P Raman, MGR used to live..
Thanks for the memories..

Shantaram said...

@ Jacob: You're right - this isn't a task to be done in peak hour traffic!

@ Anon: Must have been a quiet area - it is still one of the more green roads in the city!