By on December 15, 2009

(courtesy:themotorreport.com.au)

In Cambridge Massachusetts and its affluent outlying suburbs, these days cars are second class citizens. Peds think nothing of jay walking, and motorists almost always give them right of way when they do. Sometimes, peds get aggressive about it, charging across the street en mass just as the light turns green, with looks of entitlement upon their faces. Across from Harvard Yard, peds parade in front of cars turning onto or off of Massachusetts Avenue, oblivious to how many cars they are forcing to wait for minutes on end. Amazingly, I haven’t seen road rage arise from this behavior. The motorists seem to turn the other cheek, or tire, as the case may be.

There was a time when I would have considered this to be the proper order, but now I often find myself waving my arms like windmills to let a motorist know that I really really really mean to let them go first.

One problem with this behavior that might concern Cantabridgians if it were to cross their minds is all the extra greenhouse gases that spew vainly into the atmosphere while cars wait for the peds to pass.

I like that motorists give consideration to pedestrians. But I think that consideration should be returned. All of which raises questions about interactions between motorists and pedestrians. What do you think?

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62 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: How Do You Deal With Jaywalkers?...”


  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I think it’s easier to let the body already in motion to remain in motion.

    If I am a pedestrian crossing an unpopulated street or crossing the access road to get from a store to a parking lot, then I’ll let the car go through.  It saves time for me and for him if I don’t make him stop.

    But I found that if I stop and wave him through, there will inevitably be confusion and herky-jerky stop-go-stop-go between us; you know, that “shall we dance” thing.  That’s just annoying.  It’s nice to be nice, but not when it’s annoying, check?

    So here’s what I do:

    1.  Approaching the road and seeing a driver also approaching my path (our paths are perpendicular to each other), I will check for other traffic…

    2.  …if clear, I’ll make an immediate right-angle turn…

    3.  …either left or right, so that now I’m walking parallel to his car’s path…except that I’m walking in the opposite direction that he’s driving.  In other words, I’m walking along the length of his car, as if I’m absolutely positively NOT planning to walk in front of his car. 

    4.  It’s probably apparent to the driver that I’m instead going to walk behind him; which I am.

    5.  Most importantly, and most counter-intuitively:  I don’t make eye-contact with the driver.

    By making that turn and by not making eye-contact, my intent and indeed my forward path is now obviously NOT bound to intersect his path.  Most drivers will respond by driving through.

    This is smooth and clean, and most of all, NOT annoying to either of us.

    As he passes, I alter my path to “wrap” around his and I resume my former vector (unless there are other cars).

    Although my walking path is slightly longer, I believe this is faster and ultimately, safer for me as a pedestrian.

    My method does not work if there are multiple cars, and I only use it when crossing from a store to a parking lot or on a side street with little or no other traffic on it…never at a major intersection.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Apparently, jaywalking has been a capital offense for 7 months:
    http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/UnNews:Supreme_Court_approves_death_penalty_for_jaywalking

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    It’s a give-and-take situation that can best be solved by cooperation.  If each party understood the rules and obeyed them there would be fewer problems since each party could predict the other’s future actions.
     
    That said, I’d note that when I commute to work on foot I encounter all sorts of illegal and dangerous driver action affecting pedestrians.  For example, I often see cars stopped at a red light but completely filling the crosswalk.  These aren’t drivers pulling forward to make a right-on-red or drivers that just barely stopped in time for a red light.  These are drivers that somehow think the correct place to stop is right in the middle of the crosswalk. So in this case the pedestrian either has to go into the center of the intersection (with cars whizzing by the other way) or go behind and weave between the stopped traffic.

  • avatar
    kkt

    To be honest, I see more cars violating pedestrians’ right-of-way than pedestrians violating cars’.  They drive 10-15 mph over the speed limit on residential arterials, stop at traffic lights and stop signs but are driving too fast to see pedestrians who have stepped off the curb at secondary street crossings, then complain that the pedestrians got in their way.

  • avatar

    kkt,
    you obviously don’t hang out in Cambridge.
    Sunnyvale, in Cambridge the rules are basically that peds have right of way. I don’t know for sure if they have right of way even when they are going against the light, but typically if the ped looks like s/he’s going to cross, the car stops. Funny, 40 years ago that was the way it was in your part of the world (I’m assuming you’re in the Bay Area) as well as in Israeli cities.

    • 0 avatar
      Tal Bronfer

      I can definitely vouch for the Israeli cities part. Drivers here make life harder for pedestrians; pedestrians make life harder for drivers. As an obedient pedestrian, I’ve spent minutes over minutes waiting for a car to stop at a crossing. On the other hand, local pedestrians love to surprise drivers with the classic ‘hop’ to the road, just when you’re off your watch. Some just cross the street and stare at you as you crawl to a halt.

      Sigh. Oh well, at least there horn helps.

    • 0 avatar
      kkt

      Only been in Cambridge once for a few hours.  But I’ve lived in college towns most all my life:  Berkeley, Palo Alto, Seattle’s University district.
       
      Whether pedestrians have the right of way or not, drivers still have the obligation to avoid an accident if they can.  It’s quite possible in case of an accident for both the pedestrian and the driver to get ticketed.
       

  • avatar
    Kyle Schellenberg

    I keep telling myself that the next time someone pulls intentional jaywalking in front of me that is hindering my time (and other’s time) to move, that I’ll wait until they’re just in front of my car and then lean on the horn.  When they go to give me a dirty look, I’ll give them a face like it was an accident. The same way they ‘accidentally’ didn’t realize that they were crossing the street when it wasn’t their turn.
     
    Either that or just follow them up onto the curb and chase them for a few meters.  I have to put that extra ground clearance to use from time to time, so that seems like a suitable reason.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I’m with kkt.  It’s when I’m on foot or on my bike that I’m appalled at the way some motorists drive around pedestrians. Never the other way around.

  • avatar
    Joe ShpoilShport

    This past summer I had occasion to drive through downtown Burlington, VT after playing gigs in the area.  Everytime on the way home the peds, mostly college age, walked where they wanted, when they wanted, and the police watched.  With the light, against the light, in between, didn’t matter.  Cuz it’s cool, you know.  Cars stop for ME!  Apparently they have the right.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Some towns are like that.  Pedestrians rule in Berkeley, too, and not because all the drivers are hippies (they aren’t).  It’s simply a city that favors pedestrians, in which the streets clearly weren’t designed for the amount of cars that try to drive through them so speeds are low anyway.  San José isn’t too far away, but it’s the opposite.  It has a university that people drive to; most of the pedestrians have a car in the parking lots.  In San José you will receive a ticket for jaywalking. 

    In either of those cases, I haven’t seen annoying/stupid jaywalkers, just people (usually students) taking a shortcut and taking it quickly. 

    In the boring ol’ suburb where I live, I’ve been seeing more and more stupid jaywalking.  Like crossing a major street with three lanes in each direction, and at a slow relaxed pace.  These are streets where you really don’t expect it.  There are hardly any pedestrians to begin with, let alone jaywalkers.  We also have a lot of distracted or rushed drivers.  It’s much more dangerous than Berkeley or San José, where people know how things work.

  • avatar
    James2

    As a driver and a pedestrian, my answer is “It depends.” Where I live, downtown, where the streets are relatively narrow, I see all kinds of jaywalkers, usually senior citizens who figure they had a good, long life already and just go, never mind if it is against the lights or crossing without looking first. Obviously I have to let them go, even if my inner dark side says, “Floor it!”
    As I told the cop who ticketed me for jaywalking, I’m not walking an extra 200 feet to the marked crosswalk when I want to cross ‘here’ (where the store I was headed to was located). I was sick and just wanted some cough syrup and the cop was semi-sympathetic, but he still wrote the ticket. Grrr…
    When I’m at work and I have to cross a main drag to go buy lunch, I am double-extra-super-careful. At the risk of being flamed/banned, women drivers are simply clueless and I have had way too many close calls, all involving women drivers who simply can’t/won’t/don’t look around and see that people (like me) might be walking on a marked crosswalk. Their eyes are invariably staring straight ahead.

  • avatar

    I grew up in Massachusetts and it became law over 10 years ago (forget exactly when) that you had to stop for pedestrians if they were in the crosswalk.  Apparently to cut down on injured and killed jaywalkers who generally defied the walk/no walk signs.
    The problem is now pedestrians feel they can cross at any time they want and people have to stop.  In Cambridge, a big college city its much worse at certain times when school is in session.
    I agree that pedestrians need a right of way, because all too often people drive whiz bang through parking lots without a care that people may be walking through there, you’d think they’d be smart enough to look for cars that are on the street they are trying to cross.
    So blame the law.

  • avatar
    PickupMan

    Portland OR can be pretty militant too, and I’ve epxerienced lots of cars jamming on the brakes when a ped is seen merely approaching a corner or crosswalk.  In lots of cases, the ped isn’t even crossing, but the motorist feels the need to halt just in case.  Police operated “crosswalk stings” haven’t helped these gun-shy drivers either.
    Militancy doesn’t help on either side, but if you insist I’ll point out most hood ornaments make it easy to aim for ya.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Amen.  The reason Portland drivers nail the brakes whenever they see a pedestrian is because we never know what these ass-hats are going to do.  I had to drive downtown a couple times recently, and both times I had numerous encounters with peds crossing agaist the light who walked through intersections without even looking at the light or oncoming traffic, as well as peds who did look but crossed anyway.  And this was on quiet weekend mornings.  If I had to deal with those jerks on a daily basis I’d probably go postal.

  • avatar
    iganpo

    Yeah, jaywalkers are annoying, and I think pedestrians should respect rules for orderly traffic.  Maybe cops should issue them tickets.
    But that’s nothing compared to how lackadaisically many drivers follow rules for crosswalks and intersections.  When drivers fail to stop at reds when making right turns or miss stop signs and crosswalks, it’s deadly, not annoying.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      My favorite city to visit, Toronto, is quite agressive about ticketing jaywalkers. The NYPD should look into it – like the broken window’s theory, nabbing jaywalkers may have the added benefit of culling  outstanding warrants.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    Biggest jaywalking offenders – women pushing strollers.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    There is good and bad behavior on both sides of the issue.  We all just need to get along and try to cooperate.  But when push comes to shove, I honor the pedestrian for the simple fact that they don’t have the 4,000 lbs. of steel protecting them that drivers have.

  • avatar
    The Walking Eye

    Here at Purdue, they decided to make cross-walks at various points on campus this year and then had a campaign to remind us to use them.  They continue to remind us that pedestrians have the right of way in cross-walks and now I have to deal with people coming to a complete stop at any cross-walk they encounter regardless of if there’s anyone on the sidewalk wanting to cross.  I’ve also noticed that pedestrians have become a little more brazen and will just walk on out in a cross-walk without looking down the road to gauge the speed or proximity of the approaching cars.
     
    I jaywalk all the time here to make it to class, but I always wait to have a clear path because I don’t want to get run over.  When I’m in a big city, I pretty much exclusively use cross-walks, but again I always make sure my path is clear before doing so.

  • avatar
    dean

    I jaywalk regularly, but never when it would require a vehicle to stop.  I will wait for a clear space and make my way expediently.

    Here in BC the rule is that if someone is trying to jaywalk you prepare to stop if necessary to avoid a collision, but you don’t normally stop for them.  The point is not to encourage the practice.  And you only need to stop at a crosswalk if a pedestrian has stepped off the curb or otherwise clearly signalled an intent to cross.

    As a pedestrian, the practice that most pisses me off is the rolling right turn on red.  Often the driver doesn’t even look to see if he/she is about to run over someone crossing right in front of them.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    I live near a resort town at the New Jersey shore. As you may know, New Jersey has a law where a driver MUST stop at at a marked crosswalk when a pedestrian is standing there. I think that’s a great law, as sometimes I am a pedestrian as well, however some people will wait until you are right on top of the crosswalk with your car, and then jump out in front of your car as if to say “I have the right of way”, even if you are the only car on the road. They have forgotten that there is such a thing as “dead right” and they will not be able to gloat while lying on a cold slab in the morgue.

  • avatar
    jackc10

    At the risk of being un PC, and not living in Toronto or Portland, the real problem is the jaywalkers who are here in the US that learned how to cross the street in rural Latin America. They get run over and die, often at night.

    Whether it is Ponce Deleon in Decatur or Powder Springs Road in Marietta, the result is the same. Some of you can worry about urban folks crossing against a red light. Real terror is trying to turn right on Powder Springs Road and suddenly noticing a pregnant woman pushing a stroller, escorting two young children across the road, after sundown, 300 yards from the lit crosswalked intersection. “Yikes” does not quite cover it.

    We recently spent a week+1  in Costa Rica. Drove 400 miles cross country. The locals cross at strange locations and times too. No fear.  Great people but when their northern neighbors move to Georgia and cross the street, the driver’s attitude about jaywalkers does not matter. Nor does the driver’s attitutude.

    Problem is that if in the USA, if have a beer 6 hours before some recent arrival decides to cross the road  in front of you and you contribute to the the end of that person’s experience as a immigrant to the US, or some homegrown idiot, your ass is grass.

  • avatar
    SecretAznMan

    As a driver, I realize that pedestrians absolutely have the right of way in a crosswalk.  It is law in the Bay Area to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.  So as a pedestrian, I know that if I am to jaywalk, I better darn well not be holding up any traffic.  This means making sure the coast is clear or high tailing it across.  I also expect cars to give me the right of way when I legally enter a crosswalk.  It irks me to no end when I see self entitled jaywalkers saunter across me as I’m driving down the street at the posted speed limit without so much as acknowledging my approach.
    As a manual driver, I like to give it a good rev as I approach.  I’ll also flash my high beams at night as the dude in the dark clothing blocks my path as well.  Honestly, I just wish for a water balloon launcher in my car a la James Bond.

  • avatar
    potatobreath

    As a driver, the pedestrians that interpret the red-light-but-left-turn-priority signal as “green light! go go go!” are fun too.

  • avatar
    dwford

    While we are on the subject, why are all store parking lots designed to maximize vehicle and pedestrian contact?  Who is the genius that decided I should have to wheel my cart down the driving lane while cars back in and out and drive by?! Why do I need to cross the main driving lane in front of the building just to get to the parking spaces?

    • 0 avatar

      This is one that has baffled me for decades.  Walk behind cars?  Why not have a sidewalk between the rows of cars?

      John

    • 0 avatar
      Highway27

      The reason there aren’t more walkways for people in parking lots is money. Parking lots are already ‘too big’ in the eyes of most developers. Zoning regulations require a certain amount of spaces, even if they’ll never be used (and this is an environmental problem too). If you need a certain number of spaces, you want to fit them in the smallest area possible, and you especially don’t want to put in *extra* paved areas for people to walk, because the low speeds in the parking lot aren’t considered to be that hazardous, and because you then have to mitigate the impacts of the extra pavement.

      For the reason there’s a roadway in front of the stores, part is because people expect it, and part is because if you have aisles, you really have to have a way to get out of the aisle. And trapping people in a maze of parking aisles does very little to engender good will towards your store.

      There are lots of things that could be done better with parking lots, but traditions and regulations conspire to keep making them the same way we already do.

  • avatar
    Cougar Red

    In downtown Houston, some of the destitute love to cross against the light.  Slowly.  Like they are daring you to end their lives.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Three thoughts
    I do not care what the legalities are, I will NOT place myself in front of a 1-3 ton vehicle in motion.
    I really HATE it when some pedestrian steps out the path of my moving vehicle and I NEVER see their eyes. I honestly think some don’t look. Blind faith.  I was taught in grade school to look both ways before crossing . . . . . duh.
    I noticed when driving in Europe that my mental relationship to the event of a pedestrian had to be re calibrated. Yes I encountered plenty of pedestrians, and naturally initiated extra alertness, but they, with hardly any exceptions, read the speed and distance of my vehicle, and I rarely had to adjust my speed, even to increase a comfortable distance, they had that already factored in their calculus too.
     

  • avatar
    bluetick

    Anecdotal evidence, but it seems to me that pedestrians in the south don’t attempt such shenanigans as much as their counterparts elsewhere.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Dave, I usually just park at Alewife (subway station) and ride the train in when I go to Harvard Square. The trains run about every 10 to 15 minutes and it’s so much easier than driving. If I do drive in, I know the side streets from my student days and skirt around Harvard Square.

    The real hazard in Cambridge are the bikes in the bike lanes. They move faster and are quieter than the cars.  Step off the curb without looking and you run the risk of getting hit by one of them.

    I live in one of the suburbs outside of Rt. 128 and cars rule here. We have narrow twisty roads without sidewalks out here and they are as pedestrian unfriendly as you can get. You don’t want to be walking on one of the posted single lane bridges when two cars decide to squeeze by.  When I go running, there are certain stretches of road that if I hear a car coming I just get off the road as fast as I can. There’s no way they’re going to see me.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      “The real hazard in Cambridge are the bikes in the bike lanes. They move faster and are quieter than the cars.  Step off the curb without looking and you run the risk of getting hit by one of them.”
      Uh, no.  The real hazard is idiots who step into the bike lane without looking for bikes.

  • avatar

    The dominant litigation regime decides who gets the right of way. In hippie towns like Bkly and Camb, victories in courts by jaywalkers created a climate of fear and the default.
    Honestly, in most towns the biggest pests are bicyclists. They have just enough speed to become extremely dangerous, but not enough performance to move along the traffic, and plenty of sense of entitlement with a heap of insolense. Pedestrians are nothing by comparison.

  • avatar
    sutski

    Personally, I am all for natural selection. If your parents don’t teach you how to stop-look-listen and make a sensible decision before crossing a road, and then you as an intelligent human being cannot remember to look both ways before stepping out into a road, you deserve to die.

    It is a ROAD !!
     
    P.S All you people slagging off bikes, get a life!!
    @mcs “The real hazard in Cambridge are the bikes in the bike lanes. They move faster and are quieter than the cars.  Step off the curb without looking and you run the risk of getting hit by one of them.”
    NEVER have I heard anything so frikkin stupid as this. IT IS A BIKE LANE and if you don’t look you deserve to die. It is just a shjame the innocent cyclist may get hurt IMHO
    Anyone who gets knocked down crossing a road only has themselves to blame.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      What’s stupid about the comment? Do you understand what I was saying? All I was saying was that you have to be extra cautious stepping off the curb in that area because there are hazards that are harder to spot than cars. It’s a personal observation from my experience as a pedestrian in the area in question in the article.   I’ve also seen the situation that Dave describes with the cars stopping for the pedestrians and the bikes continuing past the cars. Just because the car stops doesn’t mean the bike in the bike lane is going to stop. Do I need to make this any clearer for you!

    • 0 avatar
      blau

      also, bikes here in cambridge don’t stop at red lights, so you step off the curb at a walk sign, with the big noisy car machines obviously stopped, and get swept off your feet by a bike cruising right through.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    The problem for us suburb-dwellers are the trophy wives who drive through the parking lot of the big-box store with the cell phone plastered to their ear, searching for the closest possible parking space…so that they can walk every aisle of the store and then have time to go to the gym.

    A couple of times I’ve almost gotten creamed by a once-stopped vehicle, as I was walking in the diagonally-striped area immediately in front of a store entrance. In both cases the suburban princess saw an open parking spot close to the door, but not me and other pedestrians walking from our cars.

    What made it downright funny is that one of these SUVs had a “We Vote Pro-Life” sticker on the back bumper. Apparently, “pro-life” doesn’t extend to fully-formed adults who were in the process of paying sales taxes (lol)…

  • avatar
    moedaman

    I always give pedestrians the right away, when they are crossing the street legally. And if traffic is bumper to bumper, then I do make room for them too. But if someone just wants to be an ass and jaywalk whenever they please, then I accelerate just enough to get their attention and then slam on my brakes. I hope to them, cleaning up their underwear was worth the few moments they saved by jaywalking.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    I have to share that the Metro Detroit area is the worse place for pedestrians. Aside from it having hardly any public transportation, pedestrians better be at a crosswalk and only go when that light says so.
    At parking lot crosswalks, people coming in and out of stores, schools, and workplace get a lot of respect, but step out into a street and you best not get in the way of any car.
    In Detroit, cars rule and pedestrians drool!

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Never understood why in the USA we don’t allow DIAGONAL walking at intersections, as they do in Japan…..seems like it would be more efficient…..build a period of time in each traffic light cycle where the entire intersection is clear and traffic is stopped so that pedestrian traffic can cross all possible ways in an intersection….. 

  • avatar
    midelectric

    I think it’s a curiously American concept that roads are for cars first and foremost and every other way of getting around needs to accommodate that fact.  Other places I’ve visited like Denmark and India have a more cooperative attitude towards incorporating all modes of transportation on streets with social intelligence in India being the guiding principle and well designed infrastructure and laws in Denmark.  Disparate methods, but in the end far more accommodating for all users of the road.

  • avatar
    Durishin

    OK!  Let’s get a couple of thing straight!
    1. Roads are to be shared…but that doesn’t excuse the ped population from stupidity.
    2. Force=Mass x Acceleration (ie, moving cars hurt when they make contact with bodies).
    3. Stopping and starting as pedestrians cross haphazardly in front of motor vehicles reduces mileage and increases CO and asbestos release into the atmosphere and that increases global warming (not really, but you can’t fight fashion).  AND ISN’T STOPPING GLOBAL WARMING WHAT IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT?
    4. It’s so bad here @ Brown University in Providence that the college hired crossing guards and put in stop lights with crosswalks and guards for the “kids.”  Only an academician would have thought that the kids would pay attention to the cross walks!

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    Not sure about the rest of the country, but in Sacramento, California, I came to associate this with “ghetto entitlement behavior”.  It wasn’t just jay-walking, it was intentionally jay-walking even with a nearby cross walk, at a leisurely pace, while actively “confronting” drivers with a “Go ahead and hit me” attitude with the full intent of disrupting the flow of traffic. Right before I left the Golden State, two guys were jaywalking and a large truck was coming the opposite way, leaving the second guy stuck on the double yellow lines in the middle of a narrow street. I ended up passing him in my Nissan Titan just as the truck was – in the opposite direction. He was left a very narrow room to fit between us (probably about 3 feet).  I laid on the horn and received an amusing show of a hardcore gangbanger windmilling his arms around in a frantic bid to maintain his balance. Now I’ve moved to a suburb of Ohio and jaywalkers generally *run* across the street while waving apologetically at any oncoming traffic. Attitude has a lot to do with if this kind of behavior is acceptable or annoying. If you’re trying to minimize your impact on traffic, acknowledging that you’re doing so, it is one thing. If you’re doing it to intentionally be as disruptive to traffic is possible to prove you’re hardcore, then it is another thing entirely.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I drive  through  Harvard Sq and Mass  Ave  with  my heart  in  my   mouth and  my  foot  on  the  brake.  Mass Ave in Boston, around   the  Berklee School is  just  as bad.  Longwood  Ave is terrible  too.  Bikers are are thrill where ever they are  encountered

  • avatar
    tim850csi

    Boston resident here, 250.00 fine for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.  I was actually pulled over by a statie (State Trooper for those of you unfamiliar with the Boston lexicon) for not stopping as a pedestrian approached a crosswalk on the opposite side of a 4 lane street with a median (Causeway near North Station).  Didn’t give me a ticket or warning…stating that one of the pedestrians threw up their hands like he wasn’t enforcing the law.
    Also, I would guess that it’s a moving violation, points, steps and all that jazz.

  • avatar
    jeremy5000

    Pedestrians usually have the right of way, right? Nobody should have to wave anybody on, I manage to drive and walk around downtown Montreal all week without ever having a problem. If I have a walk sign, a green light or arrow, then I walk. Everyone gets angry at pedestrians, how about the car that cut me off today, I was walking straight on an arrow to go straight, the car was turning left and should have waited for a solid. Everyone just needs to pay more attention to the lights, unless there is none, then I could see a problem.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    First of all – you are showing a photo of a child in front of the vehicle!
    So, if you people can’t show any slack to a child crossing the street, your brains have left your heads. You don’t treat children like adults regarding their decision making abilities. They are children – you are not supposed to act like one when you are driving!
    I attended University and lived in Germany where pedestrians have the right of way. After living there I discovered just how badly designed and thoughtless US cities are regarding people. I love my car as much as anyone, that’s a big reason I blog here – but when it comes to people-car crossings, you freakin’ yield to the person without the ton of steel around them!
    You are the driver. You have the responsibility of controlling your vehicle when you drive through a downtown area where people are walking! People first!
    Remember that the people outside, without a car around them, are not enjoying your air conditioning during the summer, or comfy heat during the winter, and need to get out of the weather when it is raining, snowing, or when the weather makes being outside challenging. You are in a little climate bubble – have some sympathy for people braving the elements!

    The reason our traffic laws have always treated drivers as responsible for pedestrian accidents is because of the obvious recognition that cars kill pedestrians – not the other way around. Unless you strike a 800 pound pedestrian in a 1990 Ford Festiva, you will always come out ahead if you are the driver! This has always been the case throughout our century of driving. This will not change, nor should it.

    People are fragile. If you strike them or run them over, they can bleed and die. If the person is a child, they carry a higher risk of dying from any injuries you inflict on them. If they die – you are charged with manslaughter and face prison time.
    That’s the deal. Ya wanna drive or complain?

    • 0 avatar
      moedaman

      Well pedestrians also need to show some common sense. You don’t just jump into the street willy-nilly. Jaywalking laws, cross walks and designated pedestrian crossings are there for a reason. But hey if you want to be mentioned for the Darwin Awards, be my guest. Just don’t complain about not being given the right away in an area you aren’t supposed to be in.

  • avatar
    VerbalKint

    Back in school a friend had a ’69 Spitefire MkIII with a pair of truck air horns under the bonnet.  Morons still jaywalked but when he gave ‘em a highway blast they moved much, much faster.  Jay-jumped, actually…  :-O

  • avatar
    ppastoris

    LOL. I know exactly what this article is about — I live in Cambridge, MA.
    As my first driving instructor in Ukraine said “step on gas when you see pedestrians crossing when they should not — they’ll run away”. I tried it in Cambridge afterwards — worked too, although my passenger almost had  a heart attack :)

  • avatar
    BostonDuce

    I work in Boston and run delivery trucks. I hate pedestrians. They think they were empowered by the “must stop when in crosswalk” law. They have taken it to mean “must stop -always” .
    Not in crosswalk, green traffic light, northeaster spitting snow and ice? No problem, just jump out in front of the vehicle, they HAVE to stop.  Not quite, but as a motorist you must always be in control of your vehicle, and pedestrians, even when wrong, trump your right of way.
    Just for the record, all you A-hole pedestrians- its only in the CROSSWALK where the vehicle must stop to let you pass. Green lights and non-crosswalk excursions do not entitle you to jump in front of moving vehicles. Will I hit you if you decide to play chicken with me-probably not, but if I can, I will not yield to your arrogant ass and try to go around you-and I hope its raining so I can splash your ass while I’m avoiding your jaywalkin’ self.
    The absolute worst thing about this friggen law is that the local LEO’s use it as revenue machine. They set up ‘stings’ where some stooge steps into a crosswalk when you’re halfway by it. A few feet down the street, the “enforcement team” flags you over for failure to stop. Absolute BS, but better  money that a city speed trap at $250.00 per.
    A close second is all the drivers that are intimidated by the law, and jam on their brakes every time some dumb ass toes the curb.  I worry that some ditzy broad who is busy texting Tiger is going to wind up in my back seat.
    No rage, just observations from the field.
    BD
     
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      kkt

      You start out complaining about jaywalkers crossing where they don’ t have the right of way, but at the end I see you’re complaining about tickets being given to drivers who did not yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, crossing legally.
       

  • avatar
    Kyle Schellenberg

    Seems like the definition of “jaywalker” is a bit varied around the continent.  Some people seem put off that a driver won’t respect the rights and safety of a person crossing the street in a designated location, where other people are seeing people who purposely put their safety at risk by walking out into oncoming traffic with the intention of forcing cars to slow down for them.  To me that’s two different breeds of peds.
     
    Where I live, these young punks typically never cross at an intersection, it’s diagonally across the street while most often not checking or hesitating for ongoing traffic followed up by a smile or a high five with their slackjawed buddies when they make it to the other side as they look you in the face while you drive away – that’s just comptempt for their rights as a pedestrian.  To boot often this happens in a situation where if they just paused for about 4 seconds there would be no traffic to impede their street crossing.

    Considering we have snow and ice practically half the year, that’s not saying much for their sense of value for life.

  • avatar
    Highway27

    Something that struck me in the article, the question of why the drivers seem to just take the bad behavior of the jaywalkers. I think this might be related to the hazards of escalation in any situation. Consider that case a few months back with the Canadian activist and the bike messenger, where one version of the story was that the bike messenger was holding on to the guy’s car, verbally, and possibly physically assaulting him. The problem is that even if the motorist got mad, what can they do? They’re sitting there in a valuable piece of property, that if they even make a move towards a badly behaving pedestrian would, at best, result in the pedestrian getting out of the way. If they even graze the pedestrian with the car, they are now in a world of possible legal troubles, and heaven forbid they actually injure the pedestrian.

    And even if there’s no contact, if you make a pedestrian mad, what if they turn around and start bashing on your car, or take their book or a rock or their feet and hammer the mirrors, or the windows, or the quarter panels? Are you gonna get their name and number? Are you going to try to sue them in small claims court? Maybe, but it’s an awful lot of hassle. And the BEST you could do to defend yourself is try to get away. You get out of the car, you’re now in a heated physical confrontation. You try to get away, what if they jump on your car, then roll off and are injured? Who’s in the crap sandwich now? You are.

    So that’s why people take that bad behavior. The jaywalkers know they’re inconveniencing you and they don’t care cause it’s more convenient for them. The possible repercussions to any confrontation are so lopsided in the jaywalker’s favor that they feel they can do it with impunity.

  • avatar

    @Highway27, very interesting points. I suspect this is true in most cases.  but my sense is that in Cambridge, most of the drivers stop so readily for peds because they really do believe that peds should have the right of way.
    Regarding some other comments, there are definitely a lot of peds in cambridge who seem to enjoy getting in cars’ way.
    Regarding comments about bicyclists, I am one; in the ’80s I road nearly 40,000 miles, probably somewhat more than half of that in Washington DC traffic. One important thing to understand about cyclists, whether you are driving or walking, is that cyclists don’t like to lose their momentum because of the effort required to regain it, and they will go to varying lengths to keep it. They should, of course, refrain from riding so as to endanger peds, but peds should be courteous to cyclists. As a ped, I almost always give right of way to cyclists.
    MCS: 1) I once parked at Alewife when I had to get into an event at the Kennedy School during AM rush hour. But other than that, I so much prefer to drive and it’s almost always quicker for me. Being on the subway doesn’t do anything to maximize my utility, and it’s slower, what with parking and the wait.
    2) re cyclists: guilty as charged.


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