Three honks for Jonathan Yardley. He was on the money about New York being more pedestrian-friendly than Washington [Style, Oct. 18]. As a longtime Washingtonian who recently moved to the Big Apple, I was surprised when buses there didn't block intersections. I was shocked when cabs stopped for people in crosswalks. Most of all, I was amazed that dodging red-light runners wasn't the main pastime for pedestrians.

Mr. Yardley was right that the reason for this difference isn't just New York's stricter traffic laws (no turns on red, heavy fines for "blocking the box"). In an overcrowded city where everyone is a pedestrian at some time during the day, drivers pay more attention to the dangers that walkers face. In Washington, where many commuters from Maryland and Virginia never walk the city streets, drivers can lack this empathy.


New York

Jonathan Yardley was on the mark. As a born-and-bred New York pedestrian, I find it challenging to navigate D.C. streets. But Mr. Yardley forgot one crucial difference between New York City and D.C. traffic:

In New York, a yellow light is a 10-second transition between green and red, and it is taken as a signal to slow down. In the District, cars use the much longer yellow light -- whose time varies -- to speed up and race through intersections. This causes havoc, gridlock and accidents when the light eventually turns red.

The new police cameras hidden in traffic lights may curb this behavior, but it will take much more to change the D.C. drivers' attitude that they own the road.