Op-Ed: L.A. invented jaywalking tickets to serve cars. It’s time to give streets back to walkers
L.A. has long been a magnet for car owners. The city’s freeways and parking lots overflow with them, many illegally.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose family owns a car business, is leading a crusade to encourage jaywalking and ticket violators to walk instead.
For years, we’ve been hearing from car owners about the need to share the road with pedestrians. That’s because motorists hate pedestrians, who they believe cause traffic jams.
So here’s our solution: Don’t let car owners take their cars for granted. Drive like L.A., except, on streets that are otherwise crowded with people on foot, in cars and other means of transportation.
Walk. It’ll be faster, quieter, cleaner and safer for everyone.
The last thing Los Angeles needs is to spend more and more money on enforcement rather than educating the community on pedestrian behavior and design.
On the bright side, the idea of jaywalking tickets has been around for decades. In 1958, former L.A. Mayor Fletcher Bowron sent out letters to all pedestrians warning them against jaywalking, writing, “Jaywalkers would never do anything that would put a footmark on the sidewalk and cause a traffic jam.”
Two years later, police arrested 25 pedestrians for jaywalking. City streets were so crowded, Bowron said, that it was “nearly impossible to walk two, three, four, five blocks.” So the city set up a program called the “Walk Before You Jaywalk” campaign, encouraging pedestrians to get off the streets for a while — then walk again.
It worked: The jaywalkers who got out of the way of one car were the ones who re-enacted the original traffic jam when the next car appeared.
That’s where we come in, with our proposal to give the streets the car owners want back by encouraging the city to enact the kind of laws we need to deter jaywalking and promote walking.
We propose two laws that will help to stop motorists from parking in the middle of the