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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Crossing the Boulevard

Roxas Boulevard at Quirino in Manila, The Philippines
Note median strip and crosswalk


Are there large streets where you live, the kind we call "boulevards"? How would you describe the parts of a street you see when you cross it?


Let's cross a large street, or boulevard.

We start out on the sidewalk. This is the area along the side of the road designed for non-vehicular traffic--that means "no cars" or other things with wheels. In some cities the sidewalks are split into bicycle lanes and pedestrian lanes. (A pedestrian is a walker, a person on foot.)

Leaving the sidewalk, we step off the curb. The curb is the concrete strip that defines the edge of the road. Next to the curb is the gutter, designed to carry water. It often has drains to take the water away.

We should be using a crosswalk, or pedestrian crossing. Some people call these "zebra crossings" because they are painted with stripes.

We will cross several lanes. The one closest to the curb is called the "slow lane." This usually carries the slower traffic. The one closest to the center of the road is the "fast lane." If the road only has two lanes in each direction, the fast lane is sometimes called the "passing lane." (This is because driving etiquette calls for staying in the slow lane unless you are passing.)

OK, we've made it across the first set of lanes. In many cities, we would now be in a median strip, or center island. In some places, the road is so wide we might need to take a break there!

Of course, if we happen to be on a one-way street, then there is no median strip, as traffic moves in only one direction.

Now we simply reverse our progress: fast lane, slow lane, gutter, curb, and sidewalk again.

There are several other ways to cross a street besides at street level. We might take a footbridge, or pedestrian overpass. We could also take an underpass, or pedestrian tunnel. (Never say "overbridge": all bridges are over. And there's no such word as "underbridge." It's a tunnel.)

Whether we're going over or under, we may have to use the stairs. If we have a bike, though, it's best if there's a ramp, a smooth upward or downward path to roll our bike along.

One more thing: Never try to cross the street in a traffic circle (also called a rotary or roundabout). Follow it around the edges!


Several of the terms in this reading have the same meaning. Find them and make groups, such as "a, e." Then match that group to the definitions below. "a,e," for example, is #1.

a. center island
b. crosswalk
c. fast lane
d. footbridge
e. median strip
f. passing lane
g. pedestrian crossing
h. pedestrian overpass
i. pedestrian tunnel
j. rotary
k. roundabout
l. traffic circle
m. underpass
n. zebra crossings

1. a place in the middle of a large road where the pedestrian can rest
2. the lane closest to the center of the road
3. a way for people to cross under a street on foot
4. a place where cars can drive around and around
5. a place to cross a street at the same level as the cars
6. a way for people to cross over a street on foot

Here are some other terms from the reading. Match each one to its meaning:

a. curb
b. drains
c. gutter
d. lanes
e. non-vehicular traffic
f. one-way street
g. pedestrian
h. sidewalk
i. slow lane
j. stairs
k. ramp

1. "pathways" for cars, bicycles, or even people
2. a street that only carries traffic in one direction
3. things that are moving, but that aren't cars, etc.
4. the place for cars that's farthest from the center of the road
5. a place for a person to push a bicycle up or down
6. a concrete strip along the edge of the street
7. a person on foot; a walker
8. places that carry water away from the street
9. next to the curb, it carries water to the drains
10. a way for a pedestrian to go up or down
11. a place for pedestrians to travel along a street


1. Are there roads in your city or town like the one described above?
2. What are some basic rules for crossing a boulevard safely?
3. Do you ride a bicycle in your city or town? Are there special lanes to do this?


EXERCISE 1: 1 a, e; 2 c, f; 3 i, m; 4 j, k, l; 5 b, g, n; 6 d, h
EXERCISE 2: 1 d; 2 f; 3 e; 4 i; 5 k; 6 a; 7 g; 8 b; 9 c; 10 j; 11 h

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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