Today’s pet peeve: Pedestrians who don’t cross streets at crosswalks. More specifically: Pedestrians who cross the street any damned where they feel like crossing or cross at the crosswalk when the WALK/DON’T WALK sign says DON’T WALK.
I don’t know if this is an issue all around the world — in fact, come to think of it, I know it’s not, based on a Travel Channel piece I happened to watch last night. The host of the episode was riding in the open top deck of a double-decker bus as it sped down a pitted dirt road in Bangla Desh. She was holding on for dear life and people in the way of the bus were just SCATTERING like in that old “Little Rascals” in which the Rascals in the homemade vehicle were in that downhill race with that brattty rich kid in his store-bought Soap Box Derby kind of car and adults who got in the way just went FLYING and SPINNING up in the air as they shouted “WHOA!” and “HEY!”
Well, I’d like to see a little more of that here — “here,” these days, meaning the places where I’ve been spending my time, in Massachusetts and New York and New Jersey. All three states, a few years back, started fining motorists who didn’t stop when they saw a pedestrian stepping out into a crosswalk.
This was, of course, not a bad idea, and maybe it was even a good idea. Too many speeding or distracted or psychotic drivers were turning pedestrian crossings into a race for survival — something like “Road Rash,” a video game my son and I used to play, in which motorcyclists raced through town and countryside and tried to improve their position in the race by whacking their fellow bikers with chains and clubs in an attempt to knock them off their Harleys.
But people have taken advantage of the new crosswalk laws . And so it’s time for police to start issuing tickets for…I know it’s an unenlightened and old-fashioned retro concept…but I’m tired of slamming on my brakes every time some dodo decides to step out into the crosswalk even though I’m five feet away from the intersection…or even though the flashing sign says DON’T WALK…
It’s time to tip the balance back the other way. It’s time for police to start handing out tickets for JAYWALKING.