respecting the red light

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sisse nar

Senior Member
Korean
Hi, everyone.

This is from <Floating city> by Sudir Venkadeth.

"As we paused at the curb, respecting the red light only as long as it took to check the traffic – the code of the New York pedestrian – he smailed and slapped me on the shoulder."

What does the bold part mean?
 
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    It is about standing still at a pedestrian crossing. You are not supposed to cross when you have a red light. New Yorkers do not respect that / stick to that rule. They check the traffic and cross if they think it is safe.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    I agree with suzi, though this actually is practiced across the world, and has nothing to do with New Yorkers, per se.

    Another way to put it:

    ... paid respect to the red light only long enough to check traffic---then they went across (ignoring the red light) the street ...
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I agree with suzi, though this actually is practiced across the world, and has nothing to do with New Yorkers, per se.

    Another way to put it:

    ... paid respect to the red light only long enough to check traffic---then they went across (ignoring the red light) the street ...
    Well yes, but the author draws attention to the specificity of New Yorkers!
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Hi suzi, Of course, you are right, but If I substituted "Chicagoans" or "Los Angelenos", it wouldn't change the meaning of the phrase of in the OP. Oddly enough, Los Angelenos respect the red light more than Chicagoans do. Would this be a foreign concept in London, for example? In other words, do people actual wait at the crosswalk when there's a red light? They don't just check quick in each direction, and go? I hope moderators entertain this question, since it may help others understand the phrase.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Yes we do ignore the red light in the UK (as pedestrians ... drivers mostly obey the red light, fortunately.)

    In the sentence that the OP has asked for help with the author says it is 'a code of NY pedestrians'. He is drawing attention to it for some reason, and hence it was part of my answer

    Why do you think he uses code here?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Yes, there's no requirement for pedestrians to observe red lights in the UK. Over here, we just use them as an aid in holding up traffic at busy junctions where it would be difficult to cross safely otherwise. But if there's a gap in the traffic, most of us just cross, irrespective of what the lights are showing.

    I think the point in the extract the OP has quoted is that many native New Yorkers deliberately disregard the mandatory observance of red pedestrian lights, and the author's friend is showing approval of his "When in Rome..." attitude.
     
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