City Journal Summer 2014

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Summer 2014
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Nicole Gelinas
Jaywalk This Way « Back to Story

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80% of drivers exceeding speed limit on most streets, yet NYPD is going after pedestrians??
I always tell my kids that one of the most basic survival skills in New York City is learning how to safely cross streets. I agree with the advice "never assume the driver is going to obey the law". Even if you have the right of way, it's a battle that you end up losing.
Great article. I'd like to add yet another reason why people in this city jaywalk-efficiency. With light timing designed for motor vehicles, any pedestrian strictly obeying the law will have their travel time doubled or tripled. Arguably, even if it was always safe to cross at corners with the light, many people still would cross against the light because doing so saves time-lots of time when you consider that there's only a small legal window when you can start crossing a street. At many intersections you have a walk signal for about ten seconds out of every 90 to 120 seconds. That implies an average delay of 40 seconds to nearly a minute-at every single corner, or every 250' in Manhattan.

The city needs to find better solutions than signalized crossings. They just can never efficiently or safely work with the amount of motor/pedestrian traffic in NYC.
After 3 near misses in as many months as a cyclist & pedestrian, I finally bought an ANSI Class 2 Hi-Vis parka with reflective tape and retina-scalding flourescent green that highway crews and first responders wear. If someone takes me out, I'm determined to deprive them of the "But officer, I didn't see her" claim.

Given how obsessed drivers are with their phones now, all of you joggers, cyclists & pedestrians in black? You are defenseless. Utterly defenseless. Please shop for hi-vis safety gear. You cannot trust these idiots to see you and brake in time.

Lastly, and related to phone addiction, crossing at intersections as the law requires means that you and I can get killed by drivers coming at us from all four directions. We've all seen drivers blithely sail through stop signs & red lights because they were focused on hand-held devices.

By crossing mid-block, we are risking traffic from only two directions. This is not to endorse crossing mid-block as a general practice, but there are some places where it actually is safer than crossing at the designated crosswalks.

Do you recall Florence Cioffi ???

She tried to hail a cab on Water Street, back January 25th 2008. Got killed by CEO George Anderson.

Anderson got 16 days in Rikers and paid a $350 fine. Poor man.

Wall Street firm.

A coincidence?

Let DUI killers walk. That's going to help 59-year old women hail cabs, eh?
does no one else find it disturbing that the police ticketed an 84 year old man for jaywalking? if they had time to ticket him, did they not have time to help him cross the street?
I have found that a motorist offering a pedestrian unexpected courtesies, in or out of crosswalks, is often more dangerous to the pedestrian's calculations than not.
The only things that will fix this is installing leading pedestrian intervals, split phase signals, and redesigning streets so drivers have no choice but to slow down.

Education won't cut it. There's always a new crop of people to educate and things can slip too easily. Enforcement and laws with teeth are good, but cops can't be everywhere and I'd much prefer to not die than have my killer put in jail. Good design and smart engineering is a form of ongoing, permanent education and enforcement, no media campaign or police officer required.
You can enact all the laws you want, but the most important thing you can do to avoid getting killed crossing the street is simply PAY ATTENTION. I see many people who just don't even look as they start to cross the street. They are playing with their lives.

And I don't get all this gaming about crossing the street. Cross midblock. With the light. Against the light. Wow! Overthink stuff much?

Cross at the crosswalk when the light is with you. And, just like they taught us in first grade, look both ways.

Oh, and yeah, I grew up in the NYC area, so I know all about the joy that is NY traffic.
As a matter of fact, my uncle was killed by a taxi in the Bronx while he was, wait for it, jaywalking.
None of these risks exist if you cross mid-block when the light is in your favor. I never cross at the light--too dangerous. I cross mid-block the minute the light changes and the street is clear, like 99% of all New Yorkers. I've never gotten a ticket even i front of a cop. It's normal.
a two fold solution might help:

first, a massive media campaign explaining the WHY. And warning of criminal charges, not just traffic infractions, for endangering pedestrians. Particularly of they HIT one.

Second, end legal right turns at red lights, and reprogram major intersections to show red lights in ALL directions, thus giving pedestrians a "free for all" with NO traffic.

Sure, it will slow down total traffic, but let New Yorkers know that when drivers begin to check for pedestrians this temporary fix can be lifted, perhaps in a location by location basis.

the rest of it I've suggested earlier, take a bunch of the cops OFF beats looking for stupid violations and get them patrolling and looking for dangerous driving behaviour.
There are only so many seconds in a minute. Having a dedicated time for pedestrians to cross, and forbidding drivers to make turns during that time, means gridlock. The car that doesn't turn blocks its lane for all the cars behind it wanting to go straight. There's a physics of sorts to traffic flow, and the effect of introducing so much new friction into the flow is bound to be that the whole machine seizes up.
I'd like to see these #s normalized for people crossing with/against the light... Is crossing with the light actually more dangerous, or is it just that most people cross with the light, so there's more people in the road to be hit.
43 percent of pedestrian deaths are caused by crossing against the signal and you don't believe that pedestrian enforcement is a critical part of the fix?
Why are both pedestrians and cars in an intersection at the same time anyway? Why can't pedestrians get a dedicated time to cross where cars aren't allowed in the intersection and then cars have their own turn where pedestrians aren't allowed in the intersection? Every discussion of pedestrian safety seems to miss this simple idea. Pedestrians get to cross without vehicle conflicts and cars get a turn where they don't have to push through packs of people in busy intersections. It is complete insanity to have cars and pedestrians in an intersection at the same time.