Why we should get rid of jaywalking laws

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/13/why-we-should-get-rid-of-jaywa.html


If a pedestrian steps onto the road they have right of way over all traffic. All other traffic must make way, as much as is safe, for the most vulnerable members of the community. All other ways of parsing this behaviour are the result of car lobbying.

That such a stupid law has the effect that racist police get to selectively enforce it (as with speed limits that only black people get arrested for) is another and already sufficient reason to ditch that law.


These are people who’ve never tried to drive down the Vegas strip… charge cops with civil rights violations and mean it… leave the laws alone…


Officer dismissals? What is that?


The laws are a shitty vestige of private automotive companies colonizing public spaces. Unsurprisingly, their main uses are oppressive and often racist.


For sure. It was originally called “Jay-driving”, where “jay” was a slang word to describe an inexperienced person. In the days of horse drawn carriages you’d call someone on the wrong side of the road a jay. The automotive industry lobbied and released propaganda to make pedestrians the bad guys.


And yet, when the powers that be try to make the world safe for self-driving cars, in all probability they’ll make jaywalking penalties more severe.


Defining jaywalking as crossing the street anywhere other than a crosswalk or intersection, the safest place to cross the street is away from the intersection where cars are converging from 4 directions to the middle of the block or away from an intersection where the cars are only going two directions. Unfortunately, cars rule. I have been hit in the crosswalk at an intersection and 4 way stop while walking my dogs and the car would have run over me after it hit me if I hadn’t bashed the windshield with my walking cane. Always call the police. I didn’t and regretted it the next day when I realized that I was injured. I have stepped off the curb into the crosswalk and was, fortunately, paying attention and stepped back as some young girl driver ran the red light and would have hit me. It would be nice to have a heavy object to take my place for drivers like that. Because they lack insurance which is required, often drivers hit and run. I have seen this happen twice. Two UC students hit by cars. One killed. In a crosswalk. Driver never caught. I have never been hit or come close jaywalking.


One of the finest things in British life is the Belisha beacon. You can cross the road as a pedestrian wherever you like. A Zebra crossing, however, gives the pedestrian the right of way and drivers must stop. And it’s so deeply ingrained in everyone’s psyche that drivers just do.


This is probably like daylight savings time. No body in their right mind wants it to continue but everyone is powerless to stop it.


I’m jaywalking right now.


Your position only works if we forget that traffic lights are present at intersections and are already directing traffic and can easily direct pedestrians crossing an intersection at the same time just by adding a couple more lights… what the hell are we debating here? That playing Russian roulette with cars is somewhat beneficial for us?


Jaywalking is so Jay. I have here a gif of this totally jay behavior.

(that moment when you realize Jay-driving means ‘to drive down the wrong side of the street, opposite traffic’)


Your position only works if we forget

Cross only when it’s patently safe to do so; that’s the only rule you need.


Well the reason for the laws is people are hit every year crossing where they shouldn’t. Though, yeah, not sure its enforcement really does any good.


Yep. The real disruptive technology will not be AI in cars but capital capturing regulation pushing the cost onto pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and cities building roads and infrastructure.

As usual.

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Ahh but sensei he didn’t say whether he was being directed to cross (was HIS light green, to put it another way)

To be clear: if a pedestrian is on the road they have the right of way anyway. A zebra crossing means that a car has to stop to let them on the road.


I’ll admit to being ignorant: if someone were to hop a barrier/fence/wall and walk across a freeway, is that still considered jaywalking or is that a different type of crime? (I would not be in favor of legalizing that, though would be willing to pay taxes to fund more pedestrian bridges and tunnels where they are lacking)

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Not everywhere. Here in California, pedestrians only have the right of way at crosswalks.

My preference would be to allow jaywalking in all streets and roads, as long as it is safe for the pedestrian to cross, with the exception of freeways.