Along the years I have noticed a strange correlation: the more nice people are in a place the more they respect crosswalks, and vice-versa.
I’m not really well traveled, but I have indeed noticed this where I’ve been.
The best places are Germany, Uruguay and Spain (well, at least the Basque country). They are the best people I’ve encountered (again, I’m not really well traveled, so the omission of a nation is not really a judgment) and they respect crosswalks like nobody.
The worst places are Brazil and Italy, where one is left to one’s luck crossing the streets. And the people, well, they are not the most gentle.
I have also heard second hand comparisons of Canada vs the USA.
This could be all random or it could have something to do with how strict laws are applied.
But one pet speculation I have is this: as one is in a car one becomes somewhat of a superhuman cyborg — in a combat between pedestrians and cars, the pedestrian will lose. And, usually, minor transit violations (jaywalking or disrespecting crosswalks, etc.) are hard to enforce, so the cyborg is left to consult only with his or hers own conscience.
If this turns out to be true, how cars respect pedestrians would be a good index of how nice people are in a place. I know I’ve used this heuristics before and it worked.