I remember when I was in my first grade, we had a whole lesson dedicated to the proper way of crossing the street: you look in the direction which the cars should be coming from, then – just in case – in the other one, then back again, to make sure no vehicle has shown up while your head was turned away. Then you cross. It becomes such a habit that even when you go to the UK and have to switch the side-looking order, you still catch yourself doing it the old way. Here people barely ever look, and if they do – and see that there’s something coming – they still might simply expect it to stop. They walk right down the middle of the bike lane, even though there’s a perfectly empty pavement next to them. Kids follow the adults’ lead and run about (or stumble about, being often at the age when they’ve barely learned to walk) without any supervision, even on busy streets. Obviously this state of things might cause a lot of accidents. This is why the city authorities came up with the following slogan (which might seem a bit silly, but believe me, it makes perfect sense here):
“A small hand holds a big hand – together they build a civilised city”.
Although I have to say, as much as I support the idea, I still find it hilarious (and disturbing) that holding your little kid’s hand while crossing the street may be presented more as a matter of good manners than common sense.