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**Signaling Methods:**
– Hitchhikers use physical gestures or written signs to indicate they need a ride.
– Hand signals vary worldwide, like palm facing upwards in some African countries.
– In Europe and the Americas, hitchhikers typically stand with their back facing the direction of travel, extending their arm with thumb pointing upward.
– Different signaling methods are used in various regions around the world.
– The gestures used can differ based on cultural norms and local practices.

**Legal Status:**
– Hitchhiking is a common practice globally, with few places having laws restricting it.
– Some countries, like the United States and Canada, have laws restricting hitchhiking in certain locations.
– In Europe, hitchhiking is legal and even encouraged in some places.
– Laws generally forbid hitchhiking on highways or motorways where pedestrians are banned.
– Despite restrictions, hitchhikers often find rides at legal spots like entrances and truck stops.

**Community Building:**
– Hitchhikers have initiated community-building efforts, like the annual Hitchgathering event.
– Platforms such as Hitchwiki allow hitchhikers to share tips and find good hitchhiking spots globally.
– These initiatives aim to strengthen the hitchhiking community and provide support for fellow hitchhikers.
– Community events and online platforms help create a network of like-minded individuals.
– Sharing experiences and information enhances the hitchhiking experience for participants.

**Decline and Safety Concerns:**
– Hitchhiking in the US has declined since the 1970s due to factors like lower air travel costs and increased car ownership.
– Fear of hitchhiking has been influenced by movies and real-life incidents.
– Researchers are exploring reasons for the decline in hitchhiking and ways to revive it safely.
– Safety concerns and lack of trust in strangers have contributed to the decrease in hitchhiking.
– Efforts are being made to address safety issues and promote safer hitchhiking practices.

**Public Policy Support and Initiatives:**
– Rural areas in Germany, Austria, and Belgium have started supporting hitchhiking as a social and environmental initiative.
– Ride-sharing improves mobility for residents in areas with inadequate public transport.
– Hitchhiking benches, known as Mitfahrbänke, are provided for waiting riders in some regions.
– Brightly colored benches with destination signs help hitchhikers signal where they want to go.
– Initiatives like the EU’s LEADER program and climate protection initiatives promote hitchhiking as an eco-friendly transportation option.

Hitchhiking (Wikipedia)

Hitchhiking (also known as thumbing, autostop or hitching) is a means of transportation that is gained by asking individuals, usually strangers, for a ride in their car or other vehicle. The ride is usually, but not always, free.

A man and woman hitchhiking near Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1936, photograph by Walker Evans
A man with an outstretched thumb and a sign indicating his destination.
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