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Why you should jaywalk

C

Christopher DeWolf

Guest
my latest column in maisonneuve magazine. click on the link when you're done so it gets more hits to please my bosses.

THE TRUTH ABOUT JAYWALKING
Besides being dangerous, is there a silver lining to pedestrians' unruly habits?


BY CHRISTOPHER DEWOLF
FEBRUARY 22, 2006

When Montreal’s police department announced last month that it had hired 133 officers to whip the city’s unruly pedestrians, drivers and cyclists into shape, Montrealers responded with a collective roll of the eyes. We’ve seen this before—les flics hand out a few tickets here and there, wag their finger at people crossing against the light and then go home. It’s all a distant memory within a week.

This time, though, the police seem serious—or at least as serious as Montreal police can be about these sorts of things. They have a mountain of a challenge ahead of them: Montreal’s drivers are notoriously aggressive and so are its pedestrians. When it comes to jaywalking, Montreal strides in solidarity with the best of the world’s jaywalking capitals. This much is obvious at the busy corner of Saint Catherine and Stanley, where I found myself on a frigid Saturday afternoon not too long ago. Stopping to observe the Montreal jaywalker in his or her natural habitat, I conducted an informal head count—one, two, three, four ... a dozen. In less than five minutes, I witnessed close to a hundred people crossing the street illegally. (See accompanying slideshow)

It’s no wonder that a high-publicity crackdown on jaywalking does little to change Montrealers’ walking habits. It’s hard to fault police officers for simply upholding the law, but should jaywalking even be illegal in the first place? Maybe it’s time to rethink the entire notion of jaywalking. Maybe, just maybe, jaywalking is actually good for cities.

Hear me out. Of course jaywalking can be dangerous—by dashing out into six lanes of traffic, you’re putting your life at risk. But most people don’t do that. Around 1,700 pedestrians are injured by cars each year in Montreal, a miniscule fraction of the number of the people who actually jaywalk.

Traffic engineers want streets to act as traffic funnels; to them, pedestrians are mere nuisances. Regulating pedestrian crossings is a way to keep cars flowing, but the failure of lawmakers to control pedestrian behaviour shows that this approach simply does not work. Instead of trying to force pedestrians to conform to streets designed primarily for cars, why not adapt them to the behaviour of pedestrians?

The first step is to accept walking as a legitimate form of transportation, one that is equal—or even superior—to vehicle transport. “What we need to do is to shift our mentality and conceive of pedestrians as part of traffic,†says Dylan Reid, member of the Toronto Pedestrian Committee, a pedestrian watchdog group created by the City of Toronto. “Being a pedestrian is the most efficient form of transport. The more people you have walking, the safer [the streets are] and the less pollution there is.†On streets that already bustle with pedestrians, Reid suggests that narrowing lanes and widening sidewalks is a good way to encourage walking and slow down traffic. “The speed of traffic is not related to efficiency,†he explains. Consistently slow traffic makes for streets that are less dangerous, less noisy and a lot more pleasant—while still moving cars along at a steady pace.

Amy Pfeiffer, a program director at the New York advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, chimes in with even more ways to make streets pedestrian-friendly. Corner bulb-outs give pedestrians greater visibility at intersections; mid-block crossings, especially signalized ones, allow for more opportunities to safely cross the street and advance signal timing gives people crossing the street a head start over vehicles. Similarly, pedestrian-exclusive signals are ideal for busy corners, letting people cross the intersection in every direction at once. “It’s made a big difference in rationalizing what people do,†explains Pfeiffer. “It’s really hard to control pedestrian behaviour.†Pedestrians aren’t sheep. They will go where they want, when they want, as long as it’s safe—and in many cases, that involves taking a calculated risk by crossing the street mid-block or against the light. “If it’s safe to cross, they will,†says Pfeiffer. “It’s also about safety in numbers: you’ll get a huge platoon of people crossing [against the light] at the same time and they just assume that a car won’t run down twenty people.â€

It isn’t a coincidence that the cities with the most robust jaywalking culture are those in which walking rules: Montreal, Boston, New York, Philadelphia—to mention just a handful. Jaywalking is the pedestrian’s way of reclaiming the street. Drivers and their footloose counterparts might not get along in these cities, but they’re keenly aware of each others’ presence. “There should be some sort of interaction between cars and pedestrians,†says Reid. Pedestrians already know that cars are around; cars should learn to accept that pedestrians will be around.†Or, as Pfeiffer puts it quite plainly, “If you make pedestrians more visible, drivers will be aware of them.†Surely it shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that the deadliest cities for pedestrians are also the most auto-oriented.

The notion that safety comes from constant interaction between different modes of transport is not a new one. In the nineteen-seventies, in fact, the Dutch pioneered a form of street that makes this concept its guiding principle; the woonerf. Woonerfs—known as “living streets†in the UK—eliminate the division between pedestrians and drivers altogether. The resulting hive of activity—complimented by trees and various kinds of street furniture—ensures that drivers intuitively slow down to near-pedestrian speeds. When I mention woonerfs, Pfeiffer is enthusiastic: “They’re awesome!†she exclaims. “Any street could be a woonerf except for really big ones.†Reid is a bit more sceptical, but he agrees that most cities have at least some areas where woonerfs could work. Toronto’s Kensington Market is a good example—its narrow streets, constant flow of pedestrians and cyclists and virtual lack of sidewalks (they’re taken up by fruit stands and cafes) already ensure a relatively harmonious existence between different modes of transport.

But there are barriers. “We [North Americans] like to define our spaces. We don’t like ambiguity,†says Reid. Traffic engineers and transportation planners often see cities in profoundly different ways, so getting them to agree on pedestrian-oriented street design can be quite a feat. Improving the pedestrian environment requires the involvement of diverse government agencies, many of which are engaged in perpetual state of civil war.

But there’s hope. Pfeiffer tells me that Transportation Alternatives (TA) might have found a way to bypass the bureaucracy altogether. By convincing business associations of the benefits of pedestrian-friendly streets, TA found that it can indirectly prod city governments into taking action. “Walkers are shoppers—that’s something that gets the mayor’s ear,†quips Pfeiffer.

It will be a long time until city leaders realize the potential of pedestrian-oriented streets. In the meantime, make a statement by engaging in an everyday act of civil disobedience. Step into the street, look both ways and jaywalk.

slideshow


Pedestrians crossing against the light at Saint Catherine and Stanley in downtown Montreal.


Even on a frigid day with below-average pedestrian traffic, jaywalkers abound.


A flawlessly executed mid-block jaywalk on Parc Avenue in Montreal.

please click here to see the full slideshow, read comments and bump up my column's hit count!
 
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fiendishlibrarian

Guest
Bullshit gobbeldygook. What is it about traffic signals that you don't understand? Jesus, grow the **** up.
 
B

bizorky

Guest
As someone who once lived Montreal, I can say that many people who jaywalk tend to be very aware of the traffic. That's how you stay alive. Many drivers are also aware of jaywalkers, and tend to recognize when the act is afoot.

As for traffic signals, the irony for me is that the only time I was ever hit by a car (and this was in Montreal) was when I was crossing on a green walking signal, and a car hit me while going through a red light in reverse.

They're gonna need more than 133 new cops to stop this.
 
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ganjavih

Guest
Step into the street, look both ways and jaywalk.
I think the order needs to be changed here... unless you happen to like operating rooms.
 
F

fiendishlibrarian

Guest
To elaborate on the imbecility of this piece:

Around 1,700 pedestrians are injured by cars each year in Montreal, a miniscule fraction of the number of the people who actually jaywalk.
An odd statement. It's like saying you should drink and drive because only a small minority who do so are nailed at RIDE stops. Which is it? Obey the law or not? Your facetious tone notwithstanding, I don't see how you make the leap from saying 1700 people are injured from jaywalking, then say, well, since only a small number who do so are hit, then it's okay to to engage in the practice that gets people injured in the first place. Why not just say, oh I don't know, don't jaywalk at all? But then you wouldn't have a premise for piece, now would you?
Traffic engineers want streets to act as traffic funnels; to them, pedestrians are mere nuisances
Really? And you know this, how? And what should traffic engineers' jobs be, to make things harder for vehicular traffic to get around? Whether you like it or not, cars, trucks and other traffic that is vital to the city's economy need to get where they're going without people jutting in and out everywhere. I notice you didn't bother to talk to people who drive for a living, like delivery drivers, bus drivers, couriers, cab drivers, etc. Why didn't you? Or do you think their opinions don't matter? I note no interviews with traffic police either. Must be nice to be your own editor.
Instead of trying to force pedestrians to conform to streets designed primarily for cars, why not adapt them to the behaviour of pedestrians?
Guess what? "Forcing" people to conform to streets is really another way to prevent them getting killed. I know you don't like cars, but that's more or less the rationale for traffic signals. And streets weren't designed for cars. There were horses and streetcars long before autos became dominant, and guess what, traffic signals were designed so that the two wouldn't bump into one another on a regular basis. The fact that cars became dominant is not really what led to regulations on pedestrian traffic. Many cities brought in traffic signals (or policemen stationed on corners) long before cars became the dominant means of transport. You've either got your timelines mixed up, or you deliberatley ignored them in order to make a dubious argument.
The first step is to accept walking as a legitimate form of transportation, one that is equal—or even superior—to vehicle transport
Define "vehicle". Define "efficency". I would say clearing the way for buses to get through is pretty damn efficient. But then you segue directly to a quote from a person representing a lobby group that supports the premise of your article. I don't suppose the term "echo chamber" means anything to you?
On streets that already bustle with pedestrians, Reid suggests that narrowing lanes and widening sidewalks is a good way to encourage walking and slow down traffic
That may be the case, but unrealistic. Unless your goal is to create more jaywalking, because unless you clearly designate where pedestrians can and can't cross, you create a situation where people will walk anywhere they damn please because slower traffic creates more opportunities to jaywalk. Now I know some of you car-haters out there would love to see that happen, but you're living in a dream world. Again, are you not aware that it's not just cars you would hold up? Buses, trucks, emergency vehicles, these are all other users of the road that you fail to consider. You make no distinctions at all between them, just lumping them under the group "drivers".
Jaywalking is the pedestrian’s way of reclaiming the street.
"Reclaiming" what? The street is for vehicles, sidewalks for pedestrians. This isn't just me saying this. Legally, the two are separate. Again, this is why you get arrested when you walk onto the street when you shouldn't. When you start using terms like "reclaiming", you're framing the debate into one entirely separated from reality.
“If you make pedestrians more visible, drivers will be aware of them.â€
I agree. I'm well aware of people sprawled on my hood as a result of them "reclaiming" parts of the street they shouldn't be on.
Surely it shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that the deadliest cities for pedestrians are also the most auto-oriented.
Yes, and why? Probably due in large part to pedestrians not obeying signals. A city that is "auto-oriented" should be neither more nor less safer for pedestrians than one that is not. The only difference is whether traffic laws are followed, both by drivers and pedestrians. Built form is irrelevant if all the laws are being adhered to. It isn't the fault of cars, per se. It's bad drivers who disobey signals, or foolish people "reclaiming" the road at inopportune moments that cause the problems. Most of the pedestrian deaths I read about in Toronto are due to people jaywalking. Again, if you asked a cop about this...
Toronto’s Kensington Market is a good example—its narrow streets, constant flow of pedestrians and cyclists and virtual lack of sidewalks (they’re taken up by fruit stands and cafes) already ensure a relatively harmonious existence between different modes of transport
Kensington is a tiny example, a quirk of history and design. To extrapolate form this one instance is absurd. An exception does not make a rule, so to say that pedestrians should act everywhere they can the way they do in Kensington is beyond stupid. Ask any shopkeeper (what? You forgot? No, I don't believe it!) and tell them to ban cars there (as that Toronto group has advocated), and then see how long those quirky cafes will last. Sure, lots of room to walk around since the place will be a ghost town. And a European experience is not applicable as we all know European cities are much more differently laid out than North American ones, especially Toronto. Apples and Oranges.
We [North Americans] like to define our spaces. We don’t like ambiguity,†says Reid.
Some spaces, some ambiguity. Streets are for fast movong things, so you cross those streets where you're supposed to so you don't become roadkill and you keep things moving. Nothing ambiguous there. Unless you have an agenda, of course.
In the meantime, make a statement by engaging in an everyday act of civil disobedience. Step into the street, look both ways and jaywalk.
Sorry, acting like a ****ing idiot is not civil disobedience.
 
C

Christopher DeWolf

Guest
well that's the most obtuse and shamelessly arrogant reply i've ever gotten. not to mention the rudest one. would it pain you to not be such a prick? you don't have to agree with me, but i would like it if you were polite.

Really? And you know this, how? And what should traffic engineers' jobs be, to make things harder for vehicular traffic to get around? Whether you like it or not, cars, trucks and other traffic that is vital to the city's economy need to get where they're going without people jutting in and out everywhere. I notice you didn't bother to talk to people who drive for a living, like delivery drivers, bus drivers, couriers, cab drivers, etc. Why didn't you? Or do you think their opinions don't matter? I note no interviews with traffic police either.
in case you haven't noticed, it's already hard to get around downtown. calming traffic and making streets more pedestrian-oriented will slow down traffic, yes, but it will also make it more orderly. and the whole "our cities need lots of cars to thrive and they need to go FAST!" argument is bogus. most traffic on the street consists of single-occupant vehicles, not taxis or trucks.

have you ever taken a look at, say, oxford street in london? notice how the sidewalk varies in width, getting wider at crosswalks and intersections? or how there is no vehicular access to sidestreets? these things make life a lot easier for pedestrians. drivers manage to cope and life still goes on.

incidentally, jaywalking is legal in britain.

I note no interviews with traffic police either.
this piece is not about the legality of jaywalking. police enforce laws, they don't make them. this is about street design.

Must be nice to be your own editor.
actually, i have an editor. if you want, drop him a line and tell him how displeased you are with my work:

philliptodd@maisonneuve.org

i work for a bona fide magazine. you can pick it up on the newsstands anytime you like.

it must be nice to be so effortlessly condescending.

Guess what? "Forcing" people to conform to streets is really another way to prevent them getting killed. I know you don't like cars, but that's more or less the rationale for traffic signals. And streets weren't designed for cars. There were horses and streetcars long before autos became dominant, and guess what, traffic signals were designed so that the two wouldn't bump into one another on a regular basis. The fact that cars became dominant is not really what led to regulations on pedestrian traffic. Many cities brought in traffic signals (or policemen stationed on corners) long before cars became the dominant means of transport. You've either got your timelines mixed up, or you deliberatley ignored them in order to make a dubious argument.
you're misreading what i wrote, possibly because it offends your ideological inclinations so much you can't stand to even consider my argument (which is not extreme or far-fetched by any means).

busy streets need to be designed to accommodate multiple modes of transportation and of course all of that activity needs to be regulated. even woonerfs are a form of regulation. but the design of most streets are biased towards cars. little consideration is given to the behaviour of pedestrians. wide lanes, pedestrian crossing signals that are too short, poorly designed crosswalks. all of this makes the pedestrian experience more frustrating and it increases the chances that pedestrians will be injured because drivers are not aware of their presence.

i don't know what bubble you live in, but traffic calming is not a new or revolutionary idea. or do you react with such venom at every other mention of it?

"Reclaiming" what? The street is for vehicles, sidewalks for pedestrians. This isn't just me saying this. Legally, the two are separate. Again, this is why you get arrested when you walk onto the street when you shouldn't. When you start using terms like "reclaiming", you're framing the debate into one entirely separated from reality.
the concept that different modes of transportation must be separate at all costs is rooted in the modernist transportation philosophy that first emerged in the 1930s and 40s. it isn't the timeless rule that you seem to believe it is. pedestrians and drivers interact whether you like it or not. the simple act of crossing the street, legally or illegally, is interaction. if you don't believe that, please tell me what you definition of interaction is.

Define "vehicle". Define "efficency". I would say clearing the way for buses to get through is pretty damn efficient. But then you segue directly to a quote from a person representing a lobby group that supports the premise of your article. I don't suppose the term "echo chamber" means anything to you?
walking creates no pollution, has very little negative impact on infrastructure, boosts business and is exceptionally good for human health. that's efficiency.

buses, trains and bicycles are also very efficient. private vehicles that ferry around solitary passengers are not efficient by any standard.

Surely it shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that the deadliest cities for pedestrians are also the most auto-oriented.

Yes, and why? Probably due in large part to pedestrians not obeying signals. A city that is "auto-oriented" should be neither more nor less safer for pedestrians than one that is not. The only difference is whether traffic laws are followed, both by drivers and pedestrians.
you obviously did nyot understand what i wrote. let me explain it to you very clearl:

cities that have few pedestrians have the highest pedestrian fatality rates. example: tampa, most deadly city for pedestrians in the US.

cities that have the most pedestrians have the lowest pedestrian fatality rates. example: boston, safest city for pedestrians in the US.

understand now?

Built form is irrelevant if all the laws are being adhered to.
built form gives cues to drivers and pedestrians. if the street is wide, drivers speed up, regardless of the laws.

believe it or not, people don't slavishly follow laws. i know they do in your ideal world, but an ideal world this isn't. tell me, what would you do if you were in montreal and everybody waiting at the corner crossed against the light when all cars had passed? shake your fists and yell obscenities at them?

Kensington is a tiny example, a quirk of history and design. To extrapolate form this one instance is absurd. An exception does not make a rule, so to say that pedestrians should act everywhere they can the way they do in Kensington is beyond stupid. Ask any shopkeeper (what? You forgot? No, I don't believe it!) and tell them to ban cars there (as that Toronto group has advocated), and then see how long those quirky cafes will last. Sure, lots of room to walk around since the place will be a ghost town. And a European experience is not applicable as we all know European cities are much more differently laid out than North American ones, especially Toronto. Apples and Oranges.
what part of "every city has at least SOME areas where woonerfs could work" do you not understand? how can you be so dense as to not understand that i'm referring only to kensington market as an area that could work as a woonerf, not the whole of toronto?

and do you even understand what a woonerf is? did i not explain it enough? it's not a pedestrianized street. it pretty much describes the de facto nature of kensington market, or boston's north end, or any other densely-populated area with very narrow streets and lots of pedestrian traffic.
 
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scarberiankhatru

Guest
"When it comes to jaywalking, Montreal strides in solidarity with the best of the world’s jaywalking capitals. This much is obvious at the busy corner of Saint Catherine and Stanley, where I found myself on a frigid Saturday afternoon not too long ago. Stopping to observe the Montreal jaywalker in his or her natural habitat, I conducted an informal head count—one, two, three, four ... a dozen. In less than five minutes, I witnessed close to a hundred people crossing the street illegally."

But these are both one-way roads...who really thinks jaywalking on one-way roads (massive roads like Queen's Park excluded) is "aggressive" behaviour? To use your own words, on a one-way street, what's the point of waiting for the light if no cars are coming? Last time I was in Montreal I was kind of surprised by the lack of vehicular traffic downtown. It was the weekend, but, still, where were all the cars? No wonder everyone (myself included) jaywalked so freely. Many of the roads aren't particularly wide, so that helps.

"private vehicles that ferry around solitary passengers are not efficient by any standard."

They usually win in time, and often in effort. I wonder if, kilometre for kilometre, gas for a car is cheaper than food for a person.

"cities that have few pedestrians have the highest pedestrian fatality rates. example: tampa, most deadly city for pedestrians in the US.
cities that have the most pedestrians have the lowest pedestrian fatality rates. example: boston, safest city for pedestrians in the US.
understand now?"

That's true in general - you'll end up with a lower rate simply if you start with a larger number of pedestrians - but there are interesting exceptions. Indianapolis has the same percentage of people walking to work as Tampa, implying similar levels of pedestrian activity, but Tampa's pedestrian death rate is more than three times as high.

Since the figures are metro-wide (which probably cancels out variations in downtown streets - suburban sprawl is almost the same in every city and makes up the majority of the metropolitan areas) and Florida cities place 1-4 at the top of the list for poor safety, there might be a regional explanation. Are the streets or intersections designed differently in some areas? Is it speed limits or other regulations? Maybe colder cities have lower death rates because there's less pedestrians in the winter?

Cleveland, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Columbus all have lower death rates for pedestrians, but Boston was declared safer because their ratio of the pedestrian death rate to the percentage of people walking to work was the lowest. Tampa had the highest death rate but Orlando's danger ratio was highest.

www.transact.org/library/...2004_4.pdf (full list on pg. 17 - I haven't read the whole article so maybe it offers some explanations)
 
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JoeyCuppa

Guest
I think the Librarian may have missed the point of the article - namely that despite laws to confine pedestrians to sidewalks and signalled crosswalks, people will do what they want. If it's safe for them to cross mid-block, they aren't going to walk down to the next traffic light or crosswalk.

To put this in driving terms - the speed limit on a highway is 100 kph, yet very very few drivers would abide by this law if there were few cars on the road and they could get to their destination faster by going 120 kph.

The point is that people aren't sheep that can be regulated into doing whatever you want, and cities with a great pedestrian culture (Montreal, Boston, NYC) do not suffer economically for it, so why not embrace it?
 
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fiendishlibrarian

Guest
would it pain you to not be such a prick?
Hmm, namecalling in the first paragraph. This should be good. Talk about pot kettle black...
"our cities need lots of cars to thrive and they need to go FAST!" argument is bogus. most traffic on the street consists of single-occupant vehicles, not taxis or trucks
Where do I advocate speeding? Where am I saying we need tonnes of cars? Nice extrapolations there, do you always put arguments in other peoples' mouths? What I take issue with is the notion that streets that are clearly delinated for vehicular traffic are somehow to be seen as space to be "reclaimed" where there is no reclaiming to begin with. And yes, I've taken a look at Oxford street, and again, you're comparing apples and oranges. Streets in European cities laid out centuries ago can accomodate the type of activity you're referring to. Most streets in cities in North America can't, and shouldn't. Like it or not, most cities aren't designed that way here. Where in Toronto could you do this? I know, I know, Kensington...
this piece is not about the legality of jaywalking. police enforce laws, they don't make them. this is about street design
No, it's about jaywalking. It's in the title, and you give a lame call to civil disobedience at the end of the piece. Don't be disingenuous. You're pushing an agenda here. And to not interview a traffic police officer in an article about jaywalking is akin to not interviewing a referee about new rules about passing or bodychecking.
it must be nice to be so effortlessly condescending
Are you always this skin-thinned towards people who don't share your outlook?
you're misreading what i wrote, possibly because it offends your ideological inclinations so much you can't stand to even consider my argument
No, I'm not misreading anything, just pointing out what I believe are flaws and omissions and questionable use of argumentation. Now, if YOU can't stand to consider other people's arguments, then that's your problem.
but the design of most streets are biased towards cars. little consideration is given to the behaviour of pedestrians. wide lanes, pedestrian crossing signals that are too short, poorly designed crosswalks. all of this makes the pedestrian experience more frustrating and it increases the chances that pedestrians will be injured because drivers are not aware of their presence.
That may well be. It still does not, in my opinion, act as a justification for breaking the law and advocating a practice that can lead to harm and death. That's not me being ideological, it's being skeptical that your solution is the valid one for the issue. If your beef is with urban design, than just focus on that. Don't bring in silly notions of "jaywalking culture" and other nonsense in some weak attempt to turn a foolish act into some sort of larger phenomenon. That's like saying there's a littering culture because garbage cans are too small, or a dog-shit culture because people are too lazy to scoop and snoop.
i don't know what bubble you live in, but traffic calming is not a new or revolutionary idea. or do you react with such venom at every other mention of it?
You know, I'm sure even you are aware you didn't have to throw this in. Again, someone who questions your assumptions "lives in a bubble"? Is that the best you can do?
the concept that different modes of transportation must be separate at all costs is rooted in the modernist transportation philosophy that first emerged in the 1930s and 40s. it isn't the timeless rule that you seem to believe it is.
Really? So why is it that when I waded through so many Toronto archival photos recently I kept coming across pictures of....streets, streets with...sidewalks, and, wait for it, signalized and clearly defined intersections beginning in the....1900s? You've got it mixed up, again. Those "interactions", as you call it, were the very things that led to improvements in and measures to separate traffic in the first place. If it happened "at all costs" (whatever that means), it's because it was in reaction to the congestion and injuries that took place when people tried "reclaiming" and "interacting" with the streets and became all too familiar with the business end of a streetcar. The fact that cars began to appear on the scene didn't alter this fact, it just made it more acute, and separation of motorists and pedestrians even more necessary. And if you want to define interaction as broadly as you do, than how I can argue with you if you make it mean everything and nothing? It's regulation of that interaction that's at issue here. And I am speaking in a North American context. Bringing up examples of medieval cities like London is nice and all, but not terribly useful or practical.
buses, trains and bicycles are also very efficient. private vehicles that ferry around solitary passengers are not efficient by any standard
So what? I wasn't arguing for the efficiency of single-occupancy vehicles. I'm arguing for not jutting in and out of streets just because you can, an activity that slows down the other vehicles I mentioned. Jaywalking, I suspect, doesn't help cyclists much either. Maybe cyclists and peds should be separated at all costs too? Bike lanes good, vehicle lanes bad?
cities that have the most pedestrians have the lowest pedestrian fatality rates. example: boston, safest city for pedestrians in the US
You don't say why this is the case, either in Tampa's case or Boston. Is the correlation between numbers of pedestrians and deaths that clear? Is it lack of enforcement by one city, versus more by another? Boston and Tampa are very different in layout, is that the sole reason? Are other cities like Tampa, say Denver, as safe or unsafe? Or cities like New York, with its giant sidewalks, any safer? In any case, speaking of New York, what I do find interesting is this quote from that very New York organization you cite, which examines pedestrian deaths, and who state:

"While the number of pedestrian injuries and deaths in New York City has been declining in recent years due to increased police enforcement, we are still far behind other world-class cities such as London, Paris, Tokyo, and Sydney"

And before you say that all the measures they advocate are geared to motorists, go back to what I said in my earlier post. I believe that drivers AND pedestrians, if they follow all regulations, should increase safety for both. It's when you favour one over the other by nailing motorists while turning a blind eye to jaywalking, that you have problems. Because when motorists see that pedestrians, cyclists or anyone else has carte blanche to do what they want, then it's inevitable that drivers will stop doing what they should be doing as well. To cite Tokyo for example, I'm curious as to why that city is considered safer even though it is lined with huge roads and expressways everywhere. My guess is that both motorists and pedestrians adhere to what they should do, and a balance is struck. Montreal, in my experience, is hellish to drive AND walk in because no one seems to know what they're doing because nothing there seems to be enforced, traffic rules or not. Takes two to tango.

So, funny enough, it seems that when you enforce the law, pedestrian death rates decline. And look at the other cities they cite: Paris and Sydney, two cities that fall within the Boston/Tampa paradigm you refer to. From what I've seen of Sydney, it's much closer to Tampa in look than Boston. So clearly, there's more to this than just saying that the number of people on the streets, in and of itself, makes a city safer for pedestrians. Which brings me to this gem:
believe it or not, people don't slavishly follow laws. i know they do in your ideal world, but an ideal world this isn't. tell me, what would you do if you were in montreal and everybody waiting at the corner crossed against the light when all cars had passed? shake your fists and yell obscenities at them?
Obeying the law. Ha! What a concept! No, no, I wouldn't shake my fists, just silently shake my head and say to my self, you know, if jaywalker over there gets nailed, then he's getting what's coming to him. Why is that so hard for you to understand?
how can you be so dense as to not understand that i'm referring only to kensington market as an area that could work as a woonerf, not the whole of toronto?
Boy, for someone who is so aggrieved and indignant, you can sure spew it with the best of them. I was pointing out the limitations of your fixation on a tiny area of the city that has no bearing, no lessons to give as to the larger issue at hand. What about parts of Etobicoke, or North York, which are far more typical of Toronto's built form, and where many pedestrian deaths occur? How do your little Dutch streets apply to them? What is the point of bringing up the example of a tiny five block stretch in one small part of the city where it's already well known how traffic patterns are there and that people jaywalk everywhere? Again, an exception does not a rule make. You're preaching to the converted here. If you were a little less lazy you may have figured this out, but I can't be suprised at this given you make the claim that the article is, as you put it, about urban design and not jaywalking. Right. So the two have nothing to do with one another unless it's to bolster your point with questionable, selective examples stripped of any other context, like law enforcement?

Incidentally, to address the claim of NYCs jaywalking culture, what I find interesting is that such activity is possible mainly on the large, one-way streets where space opens up when traffic signals allow it to do so. The two-way streets, like 34th, I found had little jaywalking. It's interesting that measures that allow for more efficient traffic flow, like one-way streets with coordinated lights designed to increase vehicle speed, makes jaywalking possible. A woonerf in New Amsterdam? Ya know deWolf, maybe you're onto something...

Remember kiddies, just do what Elmer sez:
 
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scarberiankhatru

Guest
"Are other cities like Tampa, say Denver, as safe or unsafe? Or cities like New York, with its giant sidewalks, any safer?"

Tampa has more than twice the pedestrian death rate as Denver, while New York's is almost twice that of Boston's. Overall, 14% of America's traffic deaths are pedestrians, but this rises to 28% in New York (probably because they have so many pedestrians). At least 40% of pedestrian deaths are located where there is no intersection/crosswalk, so at least 40% are caused solely by jaywalking.
 
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shawnmicallef

Guest
In Ontario it is legal to (jay)walk in the middle of a street -- that is, cross the street at places other than interesections or crosswalks. It is jaywalking, and technically illegal, to cross against the light, when at an intersection.

Good article -- captured the push and pull between designing for cars and pedestrians.
 
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Christopher DeWolf

Guest
you're arguing that jaywalking should only be addressed by increase emphasis on enforcing the laws. but that approach has been taken many times before in multiple cities. it works in some places (seattle) but in other cities where there is an engrained culture of jaywalking, police never seem to get anywhere by handing out tickets.

maybe that's because, in the dense urban neighbourhoods with lots of pedestrian traffic, a different approach is needed. maybe we need to look at the relationship between street design and jaywalking. by adopting well-established traffic calming techniques and pedestrian-oriented street design (many successful examples of which can already be found throughout north america) we can make jaywalking less dangerous and even less common: if pedestrian behaviour is facilitated as much as possible, pedestrians won't be so inclined to break the law.

it goes hand in hand with the already well-established and well-accepted goals of reducing car use and making alternative forms of transportation, walking especially, more desirable. the economic, health, environmental and social benefits of having fewer cars on the street are well-known. they've been discussed on this forum and in the toronto media many times. making streets as pedestrian-friendly as possible is a large step towards achieving those goals. accepting the reality of jaywalking, instead of constantly trying to repress it and failing, is a part of seeing streets as places for many different types of transport.

you seem to think i'm trying to promote jaywalking. i'm simply pointing out that jaywalking is extremely common and well-entrenched in the daily behaviour of pedestrians. you make a big fuss about jaywalking being dangerous, but the truth of the matter is that it's a risk like anything else; you're far likely to die behind the wheel than you are by crossing the street mid-block. in a city like montreal, tens of thousands of people jaywalk every day. if only 1,700 are injured every year, what does that say about the odds that you will be injured when jaywalking?

the transportation alternatives quote you dug up doesn't say much. TA is referring to police enforcement of vehicular laws, not jaywalking laws. TA led a campaign against the giuliani crackdown on jaywalking and the current decline in pedestrian deaths in new york is certainly not attributable to increased repression of jaywalking; when i spoke with TA, nobody in the office could recall every knowing anyone who had received a jaywalking ticket. yes, there's a double-standard in this approach. it's perfectly justified: when a pedestrian hits a vehicle, the pedestrian is injured, not the driver. the difference in mortality rates between a pedestrian hit at 60 km/h and one hit at 30 km/h is huge. since the 1990s crackdown on jaywalking in new york was by all accounts a failure, and virtually no jaywalking tickets are handed out each year, it would seem that the decline in pedestrian deaths in new york is the result of something other than the repression of jaywalking.

about kensington market vs. the rest of toronto: yes, pedestrian safety in suburban areas is a problem. but there are many other problems with suburban design and that is a whole other matter entirely. most jaywalking occurs where most pedestrians are: in dense urban neighbourhoods. pedestrian-oriented street design is a solution for the areas that already have many pedestrians. i never meant for the ideas presented in this column to apply to every inch of every metropolitan area.

Are you always this skin-thinned towards people who don't share your outlook?
no, i'm thin-skinned towards people who treat me with contempt. you aren't the first person to disagree with me and i certainly hope you aren't the last. i don't want to preach to the chorus. but most people disagree with me without being insulting, without adopting a holier-than-thou attitude and without attacking my credibility.

i'm certainly not special, though: most of your replies on this forum fall into the same vein as what i've described above. you seem to have an unlimited amount of bile available to spew at any number of people. for YOU of all people to be talking about being thin-skinned is rather rich, considering how many temper tantrums you throw on this discussion board.
 
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nassauone

Guest
Fiendish, your people skills as per usual, are so bloody rough around the edges. You called him out first and then have the balls to write "name calling in the first sentence...".

Why not try to persuade him into seeing your point of view instead of calling him a hack - which is what you did. Your arguments are strong and could gather support but being an asshole about it makes us all think what a waste.

Really, if you are trying to tell us that you have NEVER ONCE stepped off of the curb before the little white man appeard to allow you to do so (which is what you are essentially saying with "What is it about traffic signals that you don't understand? Jesus, grow the **** up.") then I call bullshit as well.
 
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scarberiankhatru

Guest
"most jaywalking occurs where most pedestrians are: in dense urban neighbourhoods."

Of course jaywalking only occurs where there are pedestrians, but I jaywalk far more often in the suburbs. I find that jaywalking is more dangerous downtown, especially because of taxis and cyclists (both of which are more aggressive than regular cars), and since the blocks are so much shorter, there's so many more legal/safe/obvious/easy places to cross.
 

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