Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Outlaw Walking! - an editorial on how jaywalking infractions will undermine City of LA's economic recovery

Outlaw Walking!
another Will Wright rant.

The recent Downtown Los Angeles crackdown on jaywalking undermines the economic revitalization of the City and jeopardizes an entire platform of sustainability initiatives that have been formulated under the California Complete Streets Act (AB1358).  Citing jaywalking infractions is a law enforcement decision that runs counter to the goals of AB 32 and SB 375.  It's a law enforcement decision that is misguided and fundamentally flawed.  It's a law enforcement decision that will discourage pedestrianism and foster unsafe civic conditions by impeding a community's ability to inter-mingle as often as possible in such a way that facilitates greater social connectivity and understanding.  

What's more safe?  What's a bigger economic development engine?  A busy sidewalk or one void of people.

Deciding to cite the founding behavior of our community (pedestrianism!) with an infraction from the California Vehicle Code 21456(b) is a despicable implementation/enforcement of policy that threatens to tear our community apart and render Los Angeles as a less-than-livable city, thus eroding progressive initiatives to make LA more appealing and delightful as a place to live, work and recreate.

Additionally, the recent crackdown on jaywalking imperils our public safety by marginalizing our sidewalks.  It discourages the healthy lifestyle of walking and, in fact, reinforces a behavior that we are desperately trying as a City to evolve away from, which is driving the damned automobile!

We are all pedestrians.  Sure, it's counter-intuitive to step out in front of moving traffic.  But then again, pedestrians are traffic!  By all means - penalizing a person $191 for wearing shoes (instead of rubber tires) is absolutely the wrong thing to do.  If you are able to cross the intersection safely by the time the hand quits flashing, then you should be in the clear.  You should be rewarded for walking instead of penalized!

So, it is with all of this in mind that I propose we just simply Outlaw Walking!

Need to go somewhere:  take the elevator down to the garage and drive.  Can't find parking?  Well, tough.  Take a cab next time.  Just make sure that you don't walk anymore than the distance from your front door to the curb.

Walking is now illegal.  Walking is a crime.  Don't do it.  Drive instead.

Or, perhaps since walking is now outlawed - maybe we'll all be scooting around on wheelchairs.  Is a wheelchair a vehicle?  If not, why not?  If so, then as a vehicle does it need to follow the traffic signal or the pedestrian signal?

If I'm on a skateboard or on a bicycle, or wearing roller skates or dressed up as an automobile in immaculate custom traversing through town in a traffic lane (not the sidewalk, but in the traffic lane itself), do I heed the traffic signal or the pedestrian crosswalk signal?

Probably the traffic signal, right?  After all - I'm a moving vehicle/ I am traffic!

Therefore, what is the fundamental difference between a pedestrian and a moving vehicle?  If I have wheels on my shoes, am I a vehicle?  Or, am I still a pedestrian?  Am I a pedestrian while sitting in my car?  If so, then could I get a ticket for crossing a crosswalk on a flashing hand while within the confines of my car?

If my futuristic car learns to walk, is it a pedestrian?  Are those massive AT-AT Walkers from the Empire Strikes Back pedestrians or vehicles?

If I am in the traffic lane with wheels on my shoes, am I a vehicle?  And if I'm a vehicle, which signal do I have to obey?!

Are mechanical robots vehicles and do robots get jaywalking tickets?

Where I'm going with this is simple:  

Instead of walking on sidewalks, I suggest that all of us as pedestrians get in the habit of wearing roller skates and wrap ourselves in cardboard boxes that resemble the shapes of commonly recognizable automobiles (I'm either going to dress like a Prius or a Peterbilt, I haven't decided which).  We obey traffic laws as vehicles instead of as pedestrians and we regain our personal liberty and continue pursuing our healthy lifestyles.

And we continue to revitalize downtown Los Angeles by frequenting its sidewalks as often as possible.

-Will Wright
610 South Main Street, #515
Los Angeles, CA  90014

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