Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Santa Fe Declares War on Jaywalking Pedestrians

Do speeders or red light runners in Santa Fe get threatened with jail time and hundreds of dollars in fines? Do they face misdemeanor charges? Who is more dangerous to others, a jaywalking pedestrian or someone barreling down St. Francis Drive at 50 mph in a 35 zone in 6,000 lbs of machinery while talking on the cell phone? Hence why I can't understand the Santa Fe Public Safety Committee's recently suggested draconian approach, especially in a city where decent crosswalks can be few and far between and where drivers vie for the title of Most Prolific Red Light Runner.

According to an earlier Journal article, "...Accidents involving jaywalkers tend to especially happen on Cerrillos Road, St. Francis Drive or near downtown Santa Fe...".  Cerrillos and St. Francis are anything but bike and ped friendly.

Again, from the Albuquerque Journal:  "...Previous versions of the proposed “tougher” ordinance would have mandated that jaywalkers appear in Municipal Court and potentially face a fine of up to $300 and up to 90 days in jail. The Public Safety Committee approved such a proposal in November..."

While this committee suggested jaywalkers face misdemeanor charges and be welcomed as guests at Mayor Coss' Municipal Bed and Breakfast, your speeder in an SUV, egged on by road design and public indifference to the hazards imposed by speeding, could likely mail in or electronically pay a penalty assessment, like this smiling guy is doing.
What, me worry?

Fortunately, someone got the message that this looks bad for human beings not sitting in cages: "...The Finance Committee recently sent the ordinance back to the Public Safety Committee for what councilors said was clarification on issues, including whether the city’s crosswalks give pedestrians enough time to walk across the street." mean "enough time to walk across the street" wasn't considered in the first place?? Sometimes, jaywalking is safer than trusting a motorist to make a right on red after STOPPING!

So where it stands now seems to be "A city advisory committee is recommending that Santa Fe’s elected officials pass a watered-down version of an ordinance aimed at deterring jaywalking.  Members of the Public Safety Committee agreed on Tuesday that the fine for the crime should be no more than $150."

Santa Fe's cell phone ordinance, which only applies to hand held devices and in my opinion is widely ignored, holds a $100 penalty. According to the New Mexican, it was once almost repealed.  Meanwhile, for the despised pedestrian, do the crime, do the time.

Go figure. Arlo Guthrie couldn't do better.

All quoted material from the Albuquerque Journal. The rest is my $0.02.


Steve A said...

Did they consider that jaywalking might actually be SAFER than obeying the law in locales where free right turns are allowed?

Ian Brett Cooper said...

As a Briton I've always thought that US jaywalking laws were ridiculous and ought to be unconstitutional. The UK, as far as I know, has no jaywalking laws because in the UK, when pedestrians are crossing the road, they receive priority, as a matter of common law.

I've always been proud of the UK for resisting the pressures of the automobile lobby in matters such as these. This is one of a few significant cases of citizens of the UK having more freedom than those of the US.

According to Wikipedia, the word 'jaywalker' apparently came into being in the US in 1909, due in part to a deliberate effort by promoters of automobiles to redefine streets as places where pedestrians do not belong.

The US experience with laws governing jaywalking is a lesson that ought to give American cyclists pause for thought, since it shows that precedent exists to remove legitimate road users from the road.

Anonymous said...

My s.o. and I drove across the southwest on our honeymoon many years ago. We're planning to do it again for an upcoming anniversary trip. I see there will be no cause to stop and spend money in hostile Santa Fe.

Khal said...

Here is hoping sanity prevails in The City Different.