two minutes and nine seconds is the cycle time of Botafogo traffic signals. I know because I counted (not all of then, it's true, but a good amount). What varies is the time we have to cross.
We can go in a hurry, in many places we are even forced to do so, or more calmly if allowed.
To cross it is necessary more than anything to wait. The walk - despite being the most memorable moment - is fast, impulsive and often comes with relief, is the end of the wait.
We can watch the people standing on the other side (we wait in complicity despite heading in opposite directions) while occasionally looking up to see if the light is already yellow.
Cars pass in front of us a short distance away. Sometimes we even forget that there are people controlling them. We trust that they will not object when become our turn to go.
Although the cycle is relatively short, if we don't have a reference, we have no way of knowing how much time is still left. We can imagine by the amount of people that is gradually piling up around us on the sidewalk. Large amounts can indicate that we are getting closer to the end.
Many are looking for a “gap”, which consists of envisioning a moment when it is possible to cross even if the lights are still red. The conditions for deciding whether to risk a “gap” vary from person to person. It is an individual decision, outside the common collective agreement.
There are also intersections, when we have traffic signs from different streets that are connected. The advantage of these is that you can see when the other street light starts to flash. We know then, well in advance, that our turn will be arriving soon.
Following (finally) is the return to the urban movement that was paused for a brief moment. In a fast-paced neighborhood, waiting takes us out of our comfort zone. Standing still, we think, observe and then forget.
Where are we going anyway?