To Wave Or Not To Wave, That Is The Question

Pedestrian crossing
Image by nafmo via Flickr

I need help working out if something that is culturally acceptable, well actually almost expected, in Australia is done here in Germany.

In Australia, we have what is know as “the wave”.  The wave is used when you are driving and someone lets you pull in in front of them, then you give them “the wave” to say thanks.  Anyone who doesn’t wave after you let them in in front of you is immediately deemed an asshole.

When you are a pedestrian you also give “the wave” when cars actually bother to stop to let you cross at a pedestrian crossing.  Yes, I know that they are supposed to stop, but in Australia it is staggering how many cars just ignore the fact that you are standing waiting to cross.  Therefore you give “the wave” to say ‘thanks for stopping and being a decent human being’.

The Germans are unbelievably good at stopping at pedestrian crossings.  On my morning run/jog/flail there is a road with a pedestrian crossing that cuts through the park and the cars immediately stop when they see me approaching.  I want to give them “the wave” to say thanks, but is that how things are done here? Or are they going to think that I know them if I wave at them and get totally confused?

Can anyone help me out here?

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6 thoughts on “To Wave Or Not To Wave, That Is The Question

  1. Yes, do it. Will make the drivers feel good about themselves. Raising the hand to head level once will do, no need to stretch it out above your head and wiggle it around (in case that is the Australian way).

  2. I generally only give a wave if I am crossing by bike or foot an intersection that doesn’t have the zebra stripes yet a car stops specially for me anyway. There is one weird street crossing like that near our house and most cars won’t stop, but for the ones that do, I wave. I don’t normally see Germans waving when crossing a street, so I guess I follow their example. LOL.

    And, yeah, I LOVE how the Germans are so conscientious about pedestrians and bikers. Sometimes I even have cars back up when they think they have come too far into an intersection. In the U.S., people just don’t typically see or look for pedestrians and bikers, and even if they see you, they still usually just drive and don’t care. My brother biked to work for a phase of his life and people used to honk and/or scream out their windows for him to get off the road!

    • The reaction your brother suffered is the same thing that happens to cyclists in Sydney. It’s just insane and one of the reasons why I never cycled to work. However, here it is just so different. I might actually think about taking up cycling in the summer.

  3. I wave in South Africa, where you are lucky that people would ever stop for you, even if you were standing in front of them as they’re bearing down on you. Anyway, theres a way to differentiate between the “hey, i know YOU!” and the more perfunctory “thanks for being a decent driver” kind of wave…enjoy your flails!

  4. We do the wave of thanks over here in Canada as described above! :) I’m sure they would appreciate it as long as it is an open hand wave and just not one particularly long middle finger! ;)

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