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Saturday, December 20, 2003
The other world of Albury
There is a twin town, on the borders of New South Wales and Victoria called Albury-Wodonga. Having stayed overnight in Wodonga, I crossed into Albury. It seemed a very agreeable town and I sat down at a cafe on a main street to observe life go by.
As it happens, I was very close to a ramped crossing and I watched with interests as pedestrians virtually ran across the road. This is very unusual behaviour - Australian car drivers have such consideration for pedestrians that walking round towns is normally such a pleasure. 'Is this the sort of town where people are super-fit and have to run everywhere?' I asked myself. A quick glance along the pavement assured me that this was not true: people were strolling along in the usual leisurely manner.
After some time, I saw an old man sauntering across the road, on the crossing. A car almost ran him down: he had to jump for his life. Once on the other side of the road, he looked back indignantly. It was at this stage he saw the notice at the crossing point. I moved a little closer so that I could read it, too. This is what it said:
Pedestrians - give way to vehicles on crossingsor something to that effect. I had to read it twice to make sure that I had not misunderstood the meaning.
Whether or not this is a feature of life in other Australian towns, I do not know. I shall look for further examples, especially in New South Wales. There are quite a few things that I find anomalous in Australian road behaviour and conventions; this one takes the Oscar so far.
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