How to Cross the Street -- A Beginner's Guide

08/26/2011 06:33 pm ET | Updated Oct 26, 2011

Welcome to New York City! Whether you're a tourist in town for a few days or a fresh-faced aspiring yuppie in for the long haul, there are a few tips and tricks to learn that will make your stay more enjoyable. You may have already learned how hard it is to navigate our fair city streets with all the pretty buildings to look at and whatnot, but what do you do when you reach the curb? Fear not, green urbanite, with enough practice you'll know exactly what to do.

We'll start with the basics. The crossing signal is your friend in your street-spanning adventures. For the novice crosser, its glow is the law. Just do yourself a favor, and do whatever it says. When the faux-glow orange Hand is up, you should stay put. Better yet, take a healthy step back. Cab drivers are busy folk who haven't the time to swerve around you. At some crosswalks you may pass the time pressing the signal button. Despite what the accompanying sign may say, this button is for mere novelty and won't change the signal any more than saying "abracadabra" would. Once that hand gives way to the ambiguous enthusiastic walker, feel free to cross at your leisure, being mindful of others that may want to walk much faster. Don't take too much time though, soon enough that Snooki hand will start flashing. That's your cue to add some horsepower and get to that other curb. Congratulations, you've conquered the basic street cross!

Once you've mastered the crosswalk shuffle, you may begin to experiment with your technique. To a seasoned New Yorker, the signal is more of a guideline to be considered when making the choice to cross. You'll undoubtedly catch a glimpse of these folks defying the Hand, or crossing outside the crosswalk's cozy confines. They avoid being turned into hood ornaments by following the basic Newtonian law of street-crossing physics: a pedestrian in motion must stay in motion if it does not wish to be met with an automobile. In layman's terms, if you start crossing, don't change your mind three steps in. Your commitment will be rewarded with safe passage. It is important to note that these are advanced techniques that should only be attempted after many repetitions of the basic technique we reviewed.

Take these tools and use them well, young walker, and soon enough you'll join the ranks of elite pedestrians across our fair city. Until then, don't get in our way.

Lesley Ryder is a law-abiding citizen and wouldn't dream of jaywalking.