“Don't run into the street” seems to be one of those basic childhood rules. It's an unquestionably important issues to have squared away, but it is also one that I find rather perplexing. It seems very sensible to tell Juliana not to run into the street; I just have to figure out first what “street” means.
Obviously I don't let Juliana run around near the big road outside our campus that is filled with cars, buses, taxis, bicycles, and motorbikes. I usually let Juliana walk on the sidewalk, but there are probably more people walking on the road than on the sidewalk. The sidewalk, which is partly for walking but is also where you get your bike repaired; get your shoes repaired; hang out and drink yogurt; buy newspapers, snacks, milk, fruit, and honey. It is the parking lot for small shops and an alternate bicycle route.
What about the little roadway going through campus? At some parts of the day it is mainly a walkway for students going to and from their dorms, grandparents walking with their young children, plus a few bicycles and motorbikes. During these times I let Juliana walk on the road because pedestrians outnumber drivers and a lot of other toddlers on the road as well. In the evening, the road is busy with bicycles, motorbikes, and cars – as well as lots of pedestrians. Even though there are lots of children walking home from school and preschoolers skipping beside their parents, I don't let Juliana walk on the road at this time because it's so busy. What percentage of vehicle traffic vs. pedestrians turns a walkway into a road?
What about the area outside our apartment where little children often gather to play? Toddlers run about and ride around on their little toy cars. Babies hang out with their grandmas. School children kick around balls. It's also directly in front of the bike-shed, so bikes and motorbikes often come through. It is also a parking lot for the occasional delivery truck or car stopping by the small store next door.
Perhaps Juliana will be confused that sometimes she is allowed to walk on the road and other times not. The again, she's grown up in China, so she might already have a much better grasp on the flexibility of life here. The lines between street, sidewalk, parking lot, store, and play area all blend together, and I'm sure it doesn't bother her in the least.