The red rule

rotEver been shouted at by a pensioner for crossing the road when the pedestrian light was red? Or worse still, had a kid wag their finger at you for crossing before the green man showed? In Germany there are two reasons why you don’t cross on red.

The first can be hard for foreigners to understand. Most German’s dutifully abide by many agreed, but not always set in stone, societal rules. Of course you can sensibly and safely cross when there are no cars around, but the majority of locals don’t.

It could cost ya

The second reason is that you can be fined for crossing on a red pedestrian light if you get caught. In Cologne it’ll cost you around €5. The city of Berlin made around €7,861 in penalties from pedestrians skipping the red light in a six month period.

You’re likely to be stopped and fined on the spot if you run a red while on your bike. And if you try to cross when the tram crossing lights are red, the penalty could be your life.

So the next time you see people standing obediently by the side of a road so empty you can practically see the tumbleweed rolling along it, don’t judge them too harshly, they’re simply being good upstanding members of society. And they really don’t like paying fines.

They take it very seriously in Köln:

Got a topic for “Did you know” or want us to answer a question about something you just don’t understand about life in Germany? Put your question in the comment section and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.


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