I just read and enjoyed this:
A hundred years ago, if you were a pedestrian, crossing the street was simple: You walked across it.
Today, if there’s traffic in the area and you want to follow the law, you need to find a crosswalk. And if there’s a traffic light, you need to wait for it to change to green. […]
To most people, this seems part of the basic nature of roads. But it’s actually the result of an aggressive, forgotten 1920s campaign led by auto groups and manufacturers that redefined who owned the city streets.