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Society & Folk


Although many Germans also jaywalk, crossing a street in in the Ruhr Metropolis still reveals a discipline that is seldom experienced elsewhere. When the red light is showing at a pedestrian crossing, pedestrians mostly wait for it to turn green. Even if no traffic is passing. Police have a tendency to intercept those that cross, while other people glare or comment at those not setting a good example. Peer pressure at its finest.

Known as the Highway Code in the UK, such a code of conduct exists in Germany too, called the Strassenverkehrsordnung. A life-saving set of instructions, they are drummed into children by parents in their persistent attempt to rescue them from finding out how humans and solid moving objects interact.

Universal habit

Yet jaywalking was born with the invention of the wheel. Planners in every town in every country build crossings and invest in lights, whilst legislators proudly package rules and regulations that are more or less enthusiastically followed.

Your publisher’s belief is that it is better to teach offspring to prioritise watching out for cars or bikes and think for themselves, rather than mindlessly stare at red lights. But I’m a foreigner. Yet some statistics do prove it true that less accidents happen in other countries.


Possibly a reckless suggestion to impatient expats, where no responsibility is accepted follows. Those who find it impossible to adapt, should take a look around before crossing. Be aware of children, parents accompanied by youngsters, kids in prams and elderly or frail people who might thoughtlessly follow into passing cars. If not, then pedestrians may wish to feel free to take life and responsibility into their own hands. The fine for the infringement is surprisingly low as are so many other fines in German law.

Please be especially careful when pedestrian crossings include tramlines. Lights can be confusing, fast approaching trams are slow in stopping. Unfortunately accidents do happen.

On a lighter note, when asked his age in an interview for radio, the famous Bob Hope responded that he had just turned 80 but, when he adds to that, the time he has spent at airports, he was actually 82. This anecdote can be plagiarised and adapted for those who are able to stand patiently for excruciatingly long periods at a red light on completely empty streets.

By Vincent Green, Jul 31 2021

Subway station


The public transport system in Ruhr is extensive, safe and normally efficient. A dense network of trams above and below ground as well as buses serve the cities and suburbs. Links via the local and S-Bahn train systems interconnect many neighbouring communities.

Cyclist on narrow modern bridge


Cycling in the Ruhr Metropolis can be enjoyable and most rewarding. Bike paths criss cross the whole of the region and weave their way across most urban areas. Hop on a bicycle to discover quieter city districts or nearby villages. Try riding along the banks of local rivers, in wilder natural spaces or the open meadows of outlying regions.

The Events Overview

From stunning light shows to funfairs, Christmas markets to marathons, jazz to reggae music gigs and long standing festivals, living in the Ruhr offers many great reasons to celebrate. Virtually any excuse creates an opportunity for street activities where a kaleidoscope of events take place every year. Photo Ruhr Tourismus / Eckhard Spengler.