I remember when I visited Massachusetts for the first time as a teenager. I stepped into a crosswalk with no traffic light and prepared to wait for the cars to pass, but they stopped and let me cross first! I was pretty amazed. A few years later I went back to a different town in Massachusetts, and they did it there too!
I started thinking about how great it would be if drivers did that everywhere, but here's the kind of jackassery we had to deal with in New York State at the time:
You must yield to a pedestrian, but only if they're in your half of the road! With that kind of wishy-washy law in place, I figured that nobody would ever bother to figure out if I was in their half of road, and sure enough they just cruised on by.
But then lo! The State Legislature passed a law making our crosswalks equal to those of Massachusetts and New Jersey. No more of this "IN YOUR HALF OF ROAD" bullshit.
That was the time that I really could have used this law, because I moved to Queens right around then. Most of the intersections here in Queens are what they call "unsignalized," where two streets cross and only one has stop signs. If there are only cars, the cars on the street without signs just cruise right through while the drivers on the other street stop. If pedestrians try to cross a street without stop signs, the drivers just barrel on through the same way. You can wait five minutes at one of these crosswalks during rush hour.
With this law, though, I could just step into the crosswalk and they'd have to stop! But what counts as a crosswalk? Unlike the crosswalks in, say, Great Barrington, there was no paint in some of these intersections. None. If it doesn't have the zebra stripes, do drivers have to stop?
According to the law, they do. In New York State, if there's a line of sidewalk broken only by the street, then the space in the street where the sidewalk would be is a crosswalk. It doesn't matter if there are zebra stripes or no paint at all. The only thing that can make it not a crosswalk is one of those signs that say "NO PED X-ING."
With that in mind, I promptly marched up to the unsignalized intersection on my corner and started to cross. The driver didn't stop. I was smart enough to pull back before I got creamed. It was clear that just changing the law was not enough.