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Abbey Road! The Beatles' famous crosswalk --
or zebra crossing, as we'd call it in Britain,
because of the black and white stripes
and the weird thing we have about naming our crossings after creatures.
Now, jaywalking -- crossing the road where there isn't a marked crossing --
isn't illegal in most of Britain.
We can cross wherever it's safe. Which is just as well,
given the complicated layout of our cities,
and given how often day trippers recreating that album cover
hold up traffic here on what is actually a fairly busy London road.
But crossing the road safely, wherever you are,
requires both the people driving and the people walking to take care.
Yes, a driver not paying attention could kill someone --
but someone on foot could walk out into traffic without looking,
assuming they're safe because, hey, it's a crosswalk,
and even the best driver with brand new brakes
has a limit on how quickly they can stop.
And there's plenty of research to say that, in some situations,
marked crosswalks like this one are actually less safe.
The US Department of Transportation analysed five years of data from 1,000 marked crosswalks,
and 1,000 matching sites that had no markings.
On roads like this? The markings made no difference.
On bigger, multi-lane roads?
A marked crosswalk is more dangerous,
probably because if a car stops in the first lane,
pedestrians don't always have a sightline
to see any cars still speeding past in the second
-- and the cars can't see them either.
Does that mean we should remove all the road markings
and let everyone fend for themselves?
Well, we can work it out.
There are "shared space" schemes,
based on studies from the Netherlands,
like this one in Exhibition Road in London.
The theory is because there aren't strict road markings,
everyone is more cautious, cars go a bit slower,
and people look both ways. Great in theory,
maybe not so good if you're blind or partially sighted.
The debate about whether this is a good thing is still going on.
And ultimately, the only way to be sure,
is for pedestrians to look when they're crossing the road --
and drivers to assume that people on foot aren't paying attention to you.
'Cos at Abbey Road?
They mostly aren't.
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