This one’s for you, Ben. Christopher DeWolf on jay walking:
According to a 1995 Transportation Alternatives study, only 18.3 percent of pedestrian accidents in New York occurred when the pedestrian was crossing against the light; 35 percent happened when the pedestrian was crossing legally. A 2001 Transportation Canada study revealed that, between 1988 and 1997, there was an average of 486 annual pedestrian deaths, 70 percent of which were in urban areas. Nearly half of the pedestrians killed in 1997 were drunk, which seems to indicate that the everyday type of sober jaywalking you see on downtown streets is not a leading cause of death. Jaywalking, after all, is a necessarily interactive process. It forces drivers and pedestrians to acknowledge each other, making them more conscious of the other’s presence. It’s probably pretty safe to say that drivers on streets like Ste-Catherine in Montreal become more cautious when they know there’s a high possibility of someone wading out into traffic. On streets with few pedestrians, on the other hand, or one-way roads engineered for maximum traffic flow, drivers speed up and become lazy, making the few who dare to jaywalk far more vulnerable. Jaywalkers, basically, put drivers in their place, reminding them that the city isn’t their own personal speedway.