How to Cross the Street in Mexico City

Today I went on an adventure within an adventure, deep into the center of Mexico City. Or not that deep. It’s hard to measure depth over a lateral distance. And for the past few days, I’ve been walking to pick up my boyfriend after he gets off work, so I’ve gained a few tidbits of wisdom for how to cross the street in Mexico City–in case you should ever be there and find yourself in need of help.

Step 1. Breathe

It’s important to remain calm and focused while preparing to cross the street.

Step 2. Look both ways

Even though most roads run one way, there are still those impatient drivers willing to break the law to get to their destination faster. Don’t let them scare you. Just be on the lookout for them and let them cross. Do not engage the enemy.

Step 3. Follow the signs

As in large metropolitan areas in the United States, there are often markers informing pedestrians when it’s safe to cross. They’re even more interesting than those in the U.S. because instead of “walk” and “don’t walk,” the signs here show red figures standing still or animated green figures running when it’s safe to cross.

Step 4. Have faith in humanity

Not all roads have signs to follow, and sometimes you’re forced to just go for it. At these times, lean on your faith in humanity and trust that most people do not want to kill you and that drivers will stop to let you pass.

Step 5. Travel in groups

When all else fails, find safety in numbers. If nobody wants to be a murderer, there are fewer people who want to be mass murderers, so the incentive for a driver to stop for a group of people is much greater than for an individual. Other passersby may also provide a helpful cue when to cross, especially for streets without markers.

Step 6. Cross with traffic

At times you’ll find yourself utterly alone on a desolate street corner without crossing signs in a land where you don’t speak the language and cannot ask for directions. Do not fret! Should this happen, it is generally safe to cross the street parallel to the cars in motion. If the vehicles are moving perpendicular to your intended direction, do not cross. They will hit you. But if you cross with traffic, you’ll likely be safe.

Step 7. Run

If necessary.

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