Monday, January 20, 2014

Jaywalking Crackdown Not The Answer

Bratton's Pedestrian Ticket Blitz Won't Save Lives
Dear Mayor deBlasio, 
The jaywalking ticketing should be nipped in the bud immediately.  From both a policy and a political standpoint, it is not a good move.
"Police were also out ticketing motorists for moving violations, so the stepped up enforcement seems to be nabbing genuinely dangerous behavior as well. But the pedestrian stings are an embarrassment for a purportedly data-driven department that has just set out to drastically reduce traffic deaths. Where is the traffic safety global success story that relies on punishing pedestrians? Name one. In fact, the proven model — exemplified by the Netherlands — does not hold pedestrians at fault in the event of a collision, even if they disobeyed the letter of the law. By applying a "strict liability" legal framework to traffic crashes, the Dutch have codified the notion that when you drive a multi-ton vehicle, it's incumbent upon you to do everything possible to avoid striking pedestrians and cyclists. This has saved lives: Fewer than half as many people are killed in traffic per capita in the Netherlands as in the U.S."

I have confidence that this was a misstep under the new police commissioner and not the future of policy.


Anonymous said...

during our visit in LA we crossed the street as usual--in the middle of the block, people were greeting us: "Hi, new yorkers!"

Anonymous said...

I drove a truck in NYC for 12 years. I could go on for hours with stories of pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers. People must be held accountable for dangerous behaviour whether in a car, on a bicycle, or walking in traffic.

Anonymous said...

Sorry,"Ticketing not the answer", but you are dead WRONG, pedestrians should be held as responsible for their illegal actions as drivers should be.

Gary Reilly said...

I'm satisfied with the Mayor's explanation: a citywide crackdown will not be policy.

I am a pedestrian foremost but a driver as well. And a driver must have the ultimate responsibility. Operating a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right, and if you're driving it is your duty to do it safely.

Gary Reilly said...

That said, I agree with these comments from Steve Vaccaro on the on the Streetsblog post I linked above:
"In a city where any higher-than-walking-speed travel is permitted in designated areas--whether by motorists (including ambulance drivers), cyclists, or skateboarders--pedestrians who walk into those areas in an unpredictable fashion at least potentially create an unnecessary and preventable risk of collision. Pedestrians do have some responsibility for the safety of themselves and others on the road, and therefore an obligation to heed the rules designed to minimize pedestrian risks--at least, in real-world circumstances where those risks are manifest. On top of the risks, it is in most cases rude for pedestrians to carelessly block the right of way of cyclists or motorists--no less rude than when cyclists or motorists do it to pedestrians.

But a sudden ticket blitz targeting jaywalking is not the way to teach pedestrians those responsibilities. Surely the best way is, at least initially, to educate. NYPD could have done some good at this intersection with pedestrians had they handed out fliers explaining the three crashes in this area and cautioning vigilance and the *shared* responsibility of road road users to make the system work. This would have been comparable to the months-long period that ended last Wednesday, during which motorists running red lights near schools received only a warning, but not a summons, when detected by one of the city's new red light cameras.

Jaywalking tickets are pointless because pedestrians already know that the penalty for miscalculating a jaywalk is serious injury or death. No ticketing is required. And I doubt that police were ticketing only those pedestrians who were jaywalking in a particularly risky manner. If they were, it would mark a departure from the usual "fish-in-barrel" NYPD summonsing MO, in which efficiency of summonsing is paramount and a qualitative assessment of the real-world seriousness of the traffic violation is irrelevant. Because NYPD (of necessity) ignores 99% of traffic misconduct, a jaywalking ticket blitz suggests that jaywalking is the source of the greatest traffic danger. As your post explains so well, it is not."