Join 3,424 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Criminalization of walking
July 21, 2011 9:41 AM   Subscribe

When Design Kills: The criminalization of walking
posted by garlic (186 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite

 
Convictions like this serve to remind me that Sturgeon's Law applies to people as well. Fuck you, jury.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:51 AM on July 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


This is pretty horrible. I remember visiting the US about a decade ago and being amazed at all these islands of shops attached to dual carriageways, unreachable except by car.
posted by Zarkonnen at 9:51 AM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Incapable driver mows down child; mother convicted in apparent gross miscarriage of justice. Design might be on the list of problems here, but I don't think it's doing any of the heavy lifting.
posted by robself at 9:52 AM on July 21, 2011 [47 favorites]


Also, I think it would be fascinating to see a transcript or something of that court case. I can't understand how the court came to such a surreal conclusion. Demon magic?
posted by Zarkonnen at 9:52 AM on July 21, 2011


The horrific injustice visited on poor Raquel Nelson just drowns out any other point, doesn't it?
posted by tyllwin at 9:53 AM on July 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Zarkonnen: I would guess the DA had too much to do, and the Public Defender also had too much to do.
posted by rebent at 9:54 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You dogs!" said the Marquis, but smoothly, and with an unchanged front, except as to the spots on his nose: "I would ride over any of you very willingly, and exterminate you from the earth. If I knew which rascal threw at the carriage, and if that brigand were sufficiently near it, he should be crushed under the wheels."—A Tale of two cities / Charles Dickens.
posted by No Robots at 9:55 AM on July 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


For a short period of time, I moved to suburban LA -- Valencia -- from New York City. Where I came from, unless you were minding small children to whom you were teaching the rules they would grow up to wholly disregard, not jaywalking got you looked at funny.

LA on the other hand? In order to cross the "street" (six lanes) I lived off of, you had to walk a quarter of a mile to the crosswalk, hit the button (took me about five minutes of just standing there the first time to figure that out), cross the six lanes in about thirty seconds, and then walk a quarter of a mile in the other direction to get directly across the street. When they took away my bus stop -- a piece of paper with the words BUS STOP printed on them, taped to a stop sign, which replaced an actual bus stop that had nothing written on it to indicate it was no longer in service -- I had to walk through two parking lots, neither meant for pedestrian traffic, and through some decorative bushes to get home.

Forget "criminalization." Walking is slowly turning into some Running Man-esque state-sponsored game show where being unable or unwilling to use a car turns into a life-or-death obstacle course, where losing doesn't just send you to the hospital, but to jail.
posted by griphus at 9:56 AM on July 21, 2011 [78 favorites]


(Also, by "parking lots" I mean "Super Wal-Mart parking lots the size of a small housing complex" by which I mean "a game of human Frogger.")
posted by griphus at 9:57 AM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Zarkonnen: “Also, I think it would be fascinating to see a transcript or something of that court case. I can't understand how the court came to such a surreal conclusion. Demon magic?”

Maybe because the jury has a bunch of facts that we don't have. Or maybe because the jury is insane. We can't really tell from here.
posted by koeselitz at 10:03 AM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Walking is slowly turning into some Running Man-esque state-sponsored game show...

No shit. My car broke down and my cell phone was on the fritz, so I had to cross a five lane road and walk about two blocks to get to a phone. It was a nightmare, and I even had a light to cross at. With all the leading green arrows for right and left turns there was really never really a moment where I could cross without having to whip my head around looking for oncoming traffic. I was horrified, but some people deal with that crap all the time. My city is very pedestrian unfriendly.
posted by marxchivist at 10:03 AM on July 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also, I get kind of annoyed when people are like, "well, he already had done two hit and runs, so he was obviously guilty in this case!" There's a reason why priors aren't brought into trials.

We don't really know what happened here. None of the accounts seem to have much detail.
posted by koeselitz at 10:06 AM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maybe because the jury has a bunch of facts that we don't have. Or maybe because the jury is insane. We can't really tell from here.

Maybe because the jury was a group of 6 middle class white people?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:07 AM on July 21, 2011 [18 favorites]


Also, I get kind of annoyed when people are like, "well, he already had done two hit and runs, so he was obviously guilty in this case!" There's a reason why priors aren't brought into trials.

2 prior hit and runs that day.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:08 AM on July 21, 2011 [17 favorites]


People here aren't condemning the individual driver, but the whole cultural construct that places driving convenience ahead of human life.
posted by No Robots at 10:10 AM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


2 prior hit and runs that day.

Plead down to practicing without a license?
posted by hal9k at 10:10 AM on July 21, 2011


Whatever facts we do not have that the jury was privy to, it is still terrible fucking design to put the bus stop there. I was in a small, touristy Northern California town a couple of months ago; our hotel was on the outskirts, barely - less than a 15-minute walk from the town square. There was a disappearing sidewalk - 50 feet of sidewalk, then no sidewalk, rinse repeat - and smack in the middle of a no-sidewalk section was a bus stop. There was also a freeway off-ramp and on-ramp right there, so cars coming off the freeway would barrel onto the street at about 60 mph. Idiotic.
posted by rtha at 10:12 AM on July 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


There's a reason why priors aren't brought into trials.

They happened THAT DAY.

We don't really know what happened here. None of the accounts seem to have much detail.

From the article (emphasis mine): "[the driver] later admitted to having been drinking, was on painkillers, and was legally blind in one eye." Seriously, dude, WTF? What level of "detail" is needed here? What would be the extenuating circumstances that would make this acceptable to you?
posted by zombieflanders at 10:14 AM on July 21, 2011 [15 favorites]


The "design" is to use a goddamn crosswalk.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 10:15 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


People here aren't condemning the individual driver, but the whole cultural construct that places driving convenience ahead of human life.

The guy admitted to having a few beers and pain killers and did three hit and runs in one day, killing a 4 year old in the process. I'll condemn the individual driver.
posted by ryoshu at 10:16 AM on July 21, 2011 [29 favorites]


In Chicago they are trying to come up with a pedestrian plan to help stop people from being killed. I find it unlikely that many of the recommendations will actually be implemented. Come on and surprise me Rahm.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:17 AM on July 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh nice. The pedestrian plan website (which I swear I linked).
posted by IvoShandor at 10:19 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


He actually was convicted of two previous hit and runs which occurred on the same day, one of which was on the same road the third, separate instance was happened on.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:22 AM on July 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


(I am large, I condemn multitudes.)
posted by griphus at 10:22 AM on July 21, 2011 [17 favorites]


2 prior hit and runs that day.

I thought they meant that, but it was actually two hit and runs on a different day years ago.

Assuming the description of the trial is accurate, the only rationale I can see is that the jury simply didn't like Raquel Nelson as a person, and wanted to punish her using any means available. The prosecution of a grieving mother who may possibly have lost control of her kid for a moment should never have been brought. I can only hope this gets appealed.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:23 AM on July 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


Also, I get kind of annoyed when people are like, "well, he already had done two hit and runs, so he was obviously guilty in this case!" There's a reason why priors aren't brought into trials.

That's as may be, but do you at least agree that charging a PEDESTRIAN with VEHICULAR HOMOCIDE is pretty fuckin' ridiculous?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:23 AM on July 21, 2011 [29 favorites]


The "design" is to use a goddamn crosswalk.

That's precisely the point, isn't it? The nearest crosswalk was 3/10ths of a mile away, whereas her apartment complex was across the street. If you're going to have an apartment complex across the street from a bus stop, then good design would put a crosswalk there rather than making people do a half-mile round trip to reach a crosswalk.
posted by Scattercat at 10:24 AM on July 21, 2011 [47 favorites]


I have spent years as a walker and transit user, often in areas that had the issue of one bus an hour. I have done this with small children, an experience I would not wish on my worst enemy. Not only is there very little consideration made for where the crosswalk is in relation to the bus stop, but I've never had much luck with people actually stopping for me in the crosswalk.

This story is awful because it just takes a moment for a child to get away from you, and after a long bus ride, the idea of walking 2/3 of a mile out of your way to use a crosswalk that may or may actually cause traffic to stop for you is the last thing anyone wants to deal with.
posted by Zophi at 10:26 AM on July 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


That's precisely the point, isn't it? The nearest crosswalk was 3/10ths of a mile away, whereas her apartment complex was across the street. If you're going to have an apartment complex across the street from a bus stop, then good design would put a crosswalk there rather than making people do a half-mile round trip to reach a crosswalk.

Or at least move the bus stop to the cross-walk. This is so dumb on so many levels.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:27 AM on July 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


The "design" is to use a goddamn crosswalk.

The "design" is to give the biggest possible middle finger to anyone who doesn't or can't drive a motor vehicle.
posted by blucevalo at 10:30 AM on July 21, 2011 [23 favorites]


After a couple of bus/car pedestrian accidents a couple years back, Champaign-Urbana has been slowly but surely redesigning walkways and intersections on campus and downtown. We now have 'stop for pedestrian' signs at most of the non-intersection crossings. And they've added pedestrian bump outs (not us, just a nice illustration) to many of the intersections. Some of the most frequently used intersections on campus have become "all cross" (where a 30sec redlight is given in all directions for pedestrians to use the intersection), which I like.

The difference has been notable for me.
posted by sbutler at 10:30 AM on July 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


I used to live across a four-lane highway from the bus stop that took me to school. The crosswalk was about 1/4 mile down. Times I crossed at the crosswalk: ZERO. Times I ran across the highway and took my chances: ALL OF THEM. (It was a sufficiently quiet highway that I could wait for a gap in traffic. I only had a real scare once, when it was twilight and the driver hadn't turned on his lights.)

Would I have been more careful with kids? Maybe, I hope so. But after waiting an hour and a half to switch buses, I can so understand the "Oh hell no I am not walking an extra half-mile out of my way" factor.

It's a crime how many places there are in the US suburbs where the infrastructure just assumes that you're going to have a car, and if not you're SOL.
posted by Jeanne at 10:31 AM on July 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


Well this is the beautiful south where they're convicting mothers for miscarriages as well.

Welcome to small government.
posted by Max Power at 10:31 AM on July 21, 2011 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I'm starting to get the feeling that the "small government" "big government" debate has been leaving out a crucial "-minded" on that adjective.
posted by Chipmazing at 10:34 AM on July 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Sue the city for a dangerous design.
posted by stbalbach at 10:35 AM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pedestrian unwillingness to use cross walks is pretty frustrating in downtown chicago. They're spaced extremely closely, but that doesn't stop plenty of people. My favorite example is the crosswalk next the Art Institute. It's less than 1/8 mile to another crosswalk, and people still don't use it.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:36 AM on July 21, 2011


It's a crime how many places there are in the US suburbs where the infrastructure just assumes that you're going to have a car

The suburban infrastructure is the car.
posted by swift at 10:37 AM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's less than 1/8 mile to another crosswalk, and people still don't use it.

If your design is measuring something that is supposed to be convenient for pedestrians with the word "mile", your design is bullshit.
posted by griphus at 10:38 AM on July 21, 2011 [65 favorites]


The "design" is to use a goddamn crosswalk.

Spoken like someone whose empathy for a single mom at the end of a long day with two frazzled kids is truly awe-inspiring.

From the link:

the stop where Raquel Nelson and her children exited the bus is located three-tenths of a mile from the nearest crosswalk, the equivalent of three city blocks. No one would walk 1,500 feet to cross the street, so Raquel's decision to cross where the bus let her family and neighbors off was hardly a "gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in this situation."

Almost any parent in this situation would find it a tough judgment call, even fully rested and not at the end of a hellacious commute. Standard North American urban design, whose highest best purpose is the ease of automobile transport, is an implicit penalty against those without the means to own a car. It's a kind of lifestyle tax in the form of drained time and energy. Occasionally, it leads to horrifically tragic moments like this one. Hence the title of the linked piece, written by a fantastic urban affairs reporter (Sarah Goodyear) for an indispensible site (Grist).

I can almost see how you'd look at this and say, yeah, fuck that careless lady. Our status quo, after all, is to assume anything in a roadway other than a car is an intruder, even though roadways are technically public spaces.

Me, first my gut did that thing that people are referring to when they say they threw up in their mouth a little, and then I had my third aneurysm this summer over the horrific human toll of car-centred design. Here's a magnificent documentary series from Streetfilms about the multiple compound benefits of moving beyond the automobile. I believe it includes providing more goddamn crosswalks.
posted by gompa at 10:39 AM on July 21, 2011 [19 favorites]


Cars stop for pedestrians at crosswalks?

I'm not familiar with the area, but I prefer to cross in an area with a median than in an area with a crosswalk and no median. I also prefer to cross away from intersections, as there are fewer directions for my potential death to come from.

Crosswalks are just pretty lines on the pavement; they mean absolutely nothing.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:40 AM on July 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sue the city for a dangerous design.

It looks like the prosecution was done to pre-empt that.
posted by ocschwar at 10:41 AM on July 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


The bike path that I ride to work has a stretch where it crosses two major roads and a freeway. The two cities, the county, and the state (IIRC) have spent the better part of a decade working on a "bridging the gap" project, the biggest part of which was a bridge over I5.

For the longest time after that bridge went in, the trail just stopped on one side of the 4-lane (plus turning lane) road and then picked up on the other, there was no crosswalk. Supposedly, one was expected to go a quarter mile down the road, cross at the crosswalk (or do a U-turn?) and then come back another quarter mile. I don't know how many times I just waited until it looked clear and just dashed across. There was also a bus stop at about that place, and I saw lots of pedestrians run across as well.

A couple of years ago, they put in a painted crosswalk with blinking lights in the pavement, and then last year the bridge over the road was finished.

I'm still waiting for the last segment over a similar stretch of road, although at least there I can cut through parking lots and take a signaled crossing. "Go through the opening in the fence and behind the Taco Bell; when you cross the street, cut diagonally through the (ENORMOUS! ALWAYS EMPTY!) parking lot behind Target/Sears until you see the trailhead for the bridge."
posted by epersonae at 10:41 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The suburban infrastructure is the car.

Almost. The suburban citizen is the car. All of the infrastructure is designed for the maximum benefit of that citizen above any other.
posted by gompa at 10:41 AM on July 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm so angry at this case, at the design of the roads, and at the idiots on the jury to say anything intelligent.

Except that I heard that one of the heads of the TTC (public transit in Toronto) had never even taken the fucking bus.

You know, if I were dictator, I would make every last citizen take some form of public transit (not including airlines) at least once a year. It's like learning history and how your government works - you can't be an informed citizen without understanding how this affects millions of your fellow citizens. Otherwise, it will keep on being separate and far from equal.
posted by jb at 10:41 AM on July 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


At least here, intersections are by default bus stops. The fact that they put a station halfway between two intersections is an admission by the planning committee that the distance to walk was too far. What in the world would be the point of the bus stop if they expected you to walk to the intersection anyway?

It's simply bad design that puts people in danger.
posted by sbutler at 10:42 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whatever facts we do not have that the jury was privy to, it is still terrible fucking design to put the bus stop there.

So now the people who live in apartments get NO busstop? Way to go to help them keep their jobs, support their kids.

Or maybe just put in a fucking cross-walk, which would end the problem.

Every single intersection needs a bus stop -- and bus stops should be placed every quarter to half mile - and every single bus stop should have a crosswalk.

And if cars don't stop at crosswalks, start having bars that come down like for train crossings.

Cars are a priviledge, not a right. Walking is a RIGHT.
posted by jb at 10:46 AM on July 21, 2011 [25 favorites]


Or little spikes that com up through the pavement? Cars don't usually have four spares. ;)
posted by jeffburdges at 10:51 AM on July 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Cars are a priviledge, not a right. Walking is a RIGHT.

More importantly, walking has been around for millions of years, and vehicles of all types are technically intrusive newcomers who need to work around pedestrians, not vice versa.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:52 AM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry - I don't usually swear on metafilter, but this issue just makes me SO angry.

Maybe because I grew up in exactly the kind of place where this family lives (on a six-lane road), but I was lucky to have a full set of lights in front of my apartment building. My mom could have so easily been her, without those lights.

We were lucky; a similar street nearby - with apartment buildings on it - has no crosswalk or stoplights for over km/1/2 mile. And my mother was still hit by a driver who didn't look when he was turning right on the red light when she was crossing at the one stoplight.
posted by jb at 10:53 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is one of those rare times I really wish I could put more stock in Christianity, because if God was going to form a line of people to be cast into Hell and tortured forever for their sins in this life, the soulless piece of shit district attorney who prosecuted Raquel Nelson deserves to be near the head of it.
posted by localroger at 10:57 AM on July 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


Crosswalks don't strictly need stoplights. Stop signs are ok, and if that fucks up your traffic I suppose you could go back to the old standard, the Yield to Pedestrians sign, informing all drivers that these stripes on the road do in fact represent where people will cross, so please notice said people, and take pains to avoid flattening them.
posted by LogicalDash at 10:58 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


At least the drivers around the city of Chicago are such assholes I regularly get to use the "Hey, I'm walkin' here" line from Midnight Cowboy.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:58 AM on July 21, 2011


More importantly, walking has been around for millions of years, and vehicles of all types are technically intrusive newcomers who need to work around pedestrians, not vice versa.

It's not just about age, it's about economics. I mean, we don't organise streets around horses or carts.

We can never demand that people use cars to get around unless we give out free cars and free gas -- and free chauffers for those who age and/or disability prevents them from driving. Having a car is a massive priviledge, one which excludes most of the working poor and a hell of a lot of the working-not-so-poor in urban areas. They have a right to use the streets that their property taxes pay for. Indeed, in my city, renters pay property taxes some 4 times higher than home-owners, though it is hidden in their rent.
posted by jb at 10:58 AM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's true that the Nelsons were not in a crosswalk when they attempted to cross the street. But the stop where Raquel Nelson and her children exited the bus is located three-tenths of a mile from the nearest crosswalk, the equivalent of three city blocks. No one would walk 1,500 feet to cross the street, so Raquel's decision to cross where the bus let her family and neighbors off was hardly a "gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in this situation."

There is one and only one real motivation for prosecuting this woman.

To make it more difficult for her to sue the responsible government entities for their negligence.
posted by jamjam at 11:00 AM on July 21, 2011 [28 favorites]


Stop signs are ok, and if that fucks up your traffic I suppose you could go back to the old standard, the Yield to Pedestrians sign, informing all drivers that these stripes on the road do in fact represent where people will cross, so please notice said people, and take pains to avoid flattening them.

On the major street that runs through my neighborhood, we have tons of signs that say something like "State Law Requires Drivers to Yield to Pedestrians." Seriously, we probably have 6 signs per mile. That street also has a bike lane and a bus route.
posted by desjardins at 11:01 AM on July 21, 2011


Here's the possible reasoning of the prosecution, according to this article:
Nelson was charged with jaywalking since there were no painted lines indicating a crosswalk at the busy intersection where she and her children crossed the street. The nearest painted crosswalk was half a mile away. Prosecutors viewed this as grounds for a homicide case, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Because she knowingly did not use the crosswalk that was half a mile away, the prosecution considered it homicide.

Here's a photo of where the intersection where the hit and run occurred.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:02 AM on July 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


I took these three photos (link goes to my flickr account). What you can't see here is the fact that there was a person pinned between that wall and the car. There wasn't room enough for a cracker, but there was a person. He was taken away shortly before I took the photo. I can't remember if the gawking people were able to get him out or if the professionals did. I don't have the instincts to stick a camera in someone's face that is already having a bad day, so all you get is the car.

This was the second such accident at that corner that I am aware of. Both forced a car onto that sidewalk. I'd call that sidewalk safe. It's wide with normal curbing. Safe until a car decides it needs to be where you are walking.

It's made me not like walking around downtown (any downtown).

And that article is fucked. I keep thinking there has to be more to the story than that.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:02 AM on July 21, 2011


What we need is urban design that forces cagers to slow their death machines cages down rather than allows them to get up too much head of speed.

That and the presumption that if you as a cager strike a pedestrian or a bicyclist with your cage you are presumed to be at fault unless you can prove willful negligence on the victim's part. The very fact that it's the respponsibility of the unarmored human being not to get hit rather than the cager's responsibility NOT TO FUCKING HIT ANYONE WITH THOSE THOUSANDS OF POUNDS OF STEEL YOU"RE HURTLING DOWN THE STREET boggles the mind.

It's the cager's world. The rest of us are just dying in it.

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:04 AM on July 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


It's less than 1/8 mile to another crosswalk, and people still don't use it.

Have you ever used a crosswalk in Chicago? They are completely—and I mean completely—ignored by almost every driver. No one stops. No one slows. No one yields. Why would I walk an eighth of a mile to a crosswalk? To appease the gods of painted lines? So that my estate can sue when I get killed? Fuck, forget the crosswalk, around here you can run someone down on the fucking sidewalk and you all you get is a ticket.
posted by enn at 11:06 AM on July 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


I want to say something sarcastic, but I can't. This is just tragedy on top of tragedy, and the jurors and prosecutors are all hypocrites, because even if they usually drive, they still occasionally cannot park exactly in front of the door where they are going, and I am convinced that every single one of them has jaywalked. This is a "punish her to prove it is her fault and therefore could not happen to me" story.
posted by jeather at 11:06 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


As much as this prosecution is just begging people to get angry about "blaming the victim," being a victim of a terrible tragedy is not mutually exclusive with having some responsibility for the terrible thing that happened to you or your child. The suggestion that someone who happens to be white cannot make any judgment about the behavior of someone who happens to be black is ludicrous. It isn't helpful to blacks to suggest they're not responsible for their own actions. In fact, this dehumanizes blacks by depicting them as lacking any self-control. Crossing a busy highway, not in a crosswalk, is a very bad idea, especially when you're taking a small child with you. Period. The prosecution may also be a very bad idea, and the urban design might be to blame too, and of course the driver was also at fault. But there isn't a limit to the number of people who can be responsible for an accident happening. In civil suits (which I realize this case isn't), there's a basic concept of "contributory negligence," meaning that the plaintiff, the person injured, may be partly responsible for what happened to them. I don't know why we should dispense with basic concepts about how the world works as soon as a black person is involved. I don't know why that's even supposed to be helpful for black people.

(To preemptively deflect some of the anticipated ad hominem attacks, I am a devoted walker and user of public transportation, and I don't drive a car. This is not just true now that I live in NYC but was true even when I lived in sprawling, car-oriented cities like Austin. I'm always inclined to be in favor of more crosswalks and public transportation, and I even support ways to make life actively difficult for car drivers, such as congestion pricing.)
posted by John Cohen at 11:06 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's a photo of where the intersection where the hit and run occurred.

Database error. Guess that link is getting overwhelmed.
posted by cashman at 11:06 AM on July 21, 2011


Database error. Guess that link is getting overwhelmed

Here's the link again, it's working for me: http://t4america.org/blog/2011/07/18/prosecuting-the-victim-absolving-the-perpetrators/
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:09 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


If your design is measuring something that is supposed to be convenient for pedestrians with the word "mile", your design is bullshit.

1/8 mile = 660 feet = 200 meters. If you are a pedestrian and can't deal with that, you are doomed.
posted by smackfu at 11:10 AM on July 21, 2011


We can never demand that people use cars to get around unless we give out free cars and free gas...

Well, if people want to vote, they better get their driver's license anyway, now that in most places it's law to have one in order to vote -- I mean, what value is there in a human without a car? Our government sure doesn't think there's much use if a person can't drive. Then, when everybody has a driver's license, they can vote to give themselves free cars. That's what people do, right -- vote so they get things free, and screw all y'all? Sorry if I sound confused, I'm still learning how the government works, it all makes me feel like I'm going crazy.

(Satire over -- but hasn't there been laws on the books for years that a pedestrian always has the right-of-way, regardless if there's a crosswalk? Sure, you get a ticket for jaywalking, but that doesn't excuse the guy who failed to yield to a pedestrian, he's still guilty of his own actions.)
posted by AzraelBrown at 11:10 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I live in a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in a pedestrian-friendly city. Last night, I realized I needed some things well after the local hardware store had closed, so I walked to Home Depot. Which involves crossing under an elevated expressway. Simple, right?

Well, no, because Robert Moses designed the expressway. There aren't sidewalks on all of the streets below, because many of them turn into on and off ramps, or go through narrow underpasses. Cars approaching and exiting the expressway generally treat the street below like an accessory highway, going way faster than their allotted 30 m.p.h., and not looking out for pedestrians. This behavior continues into and through the Home Depot parking lot.

There is a crosswalk, about a third of a mile out of the way, on the poorly-lit and desolate street below the expressway. Did I use it? No. I played frogger while carrying an armload of lumber. Had I used it on both crossings, my walk would have been safer. It also would have been over a mile longer.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:11 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love it when I'm trying to walk across a crosswalk and the driver starts to rev up their car and start driving AT ME right when I'm in the middle of it. That's awesome. I literally race across the street whenever I am crossing one-- my ex used to gripe at me for that, but I don't trust cars to stop for me and let me pass. And I shouldn't. And you get what, 15 seconds to cross the street in the first place before the red light starts blinking at you? (What is with that? I am a speedy walker/runner across the road and I still can't do it.) Let's face it, I'll get a lot more damaged from the car hitting me than the car is going to be from hitting me, so it's gonna be my problem if I don't get out of their way ASAP.

And yeah, your odds are at best 50/50 that a car will stop for you even at a well drawn crosswalk. I try to cross at streets with stoplights, but that's not always possible, and then you're taking your life in your hands.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:12 AM on July 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, if people want to vote, they better get their driver's license anyway, now that in most places it's law to have one in order to vote -- I mean, what value is there in a human without a car?

Care to back that up? 'Cause I'm pretty sure you're wrong; there might be places where you have to have an ID, but an ID is not a driver's license.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:13 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've sat on one jury in my life and, based on that experience, I can completely believe that the jury came to this absurd decision. In a group, Americans tend to become some of the most absolutist and vindictive creatures possible. And, they tend to side with authority.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:14 AM on July 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


You know, if I were dictator, I would make every last citizen take some form of public transit (not including airlines) at least once a year.

You know, I have often wondered as a lifelong car-free type why exactly airlines are not considered public transit in any real sense of the word. I know people who insist they have never taken public transit since they were teenagers, but who also do not seem to have a private jet for their trip to Europe.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:17 AM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


1/8 mile = 660 feet = 200 meters. If you are a pedestrian and can't deal with that, you are doomed.

Well, first off, the crosswalk was 3/10 of a mile = 1584 feet = 483 meters from the bus stop. Second, the person in question has to walk that four times (to the cross walk, to the bus stop, from the bus stop, from the crosswalk), which makes for 1.2 miles = 6336 feet = 1.9 kilometers traveled out of the way for no reason.

Then, you might want to keep in mind that, given that this person doesn't have a vehicle, that distance is tacked onto the amount they are already walking that day.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:18 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I should add that I think prosecutors should generally exercise their discretion not to prosecute parents who accidentally cause the deaths of their children, since the parent will already be suffering enough. It's a similar issue to the sadly common phenomenon of parents causing their children's death by thoughtlessly leaving them in locked cars. We of course feel very sorry for the parent's agony, but this isn't mutually exclusive with imputing some responsibility to that parent.
posted by John Cohen at 11:18 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Crosswalks are just pretty lines on the pavement; they mean absolutely nothing.

In Atlanta, crosswalks are the zone where you impatiently inch your car forward until the light turns green and you can stomp on the gas.

I've sat on one jury in my life and, based on that experience, I can completely believe that the jury came to this absurd decision.

I have a personal anecdote from a jury I served on a couple years ago. We were on a break in the deliberation room, and chit-chatting amongst ourselves. At one point, I mentioned that it would be nice if the MARTA train extended further into the suburbs. Two of the white men in the room said "You don't want that, because that would bring CRIME out here." And by CRIME they meant BLACK PEOPLE.
posted by Fleebnork at 11:20 AM on July 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


I have often wondered as a lifelong car-free type why exactly airlines are not considered public transit in any real sense of the word. I know people who insist they have never taken public transit since they were teenagers, but who also do not seem to have a private jet for their trip to Europe.

Using an airline for a trip to Europe is one thing. Using an airline for your trip to your job would be the kind of "public transit" we're talking about. And so far as I know, the only people who regularly fly to and from work either live on remote island or are pilots themselves.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:21 AM on July 21, 2011


And I shouldn't. And you get what, 15 seconds to cross the street in the first place before the red light starts blinking at you? (What is with that? I am a speedy walker/runner across the road and I still can't do it.)

Simple. You are an afterthought, a nuisance. Transportation engineers have been trained almost exclusively to build things to the design specifications of motor vehicles. Under duress, they will wrench in a little pedestrian infrastructure and transit right of ways and bike lanes and such, but they don't understand that stuff, don't care about it and have never given more than a half-second of thought to its design. This is how you wind up with bus stops across six lanes of traffic from dense residential areas without any direct means of crossing them.

Here's another excellent posting at Grist, "Confessions of a recovering engineer." I found it particularly interesting to learn that from an engineeer's point of view, a suburban front lawn is a "recovery zone" for a residential street designed to be safe for cars travelling at highway speeds.
posted by gompa at 11:24 AM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


There are people who work in NYC and commute by plane, EmpressCallipygos. Yes, they'll usually have an exceedingly small flat in NYC given NYC's poorish airport connectivity. There are even more Parisians who work in London and commute by Eurostar, of course, again keeping a tiny flat in London.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:26 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


And while we're at it, does "If you are a pedestrian and can't deal with that" apply to people with mobility issues? Like, say, people who use assistive devices to get around, or the elderly? Who may more likely to depend on public transit than the able-bodied?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:26 AM on July 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


1/8 mile = 660 feet = 200 meters. If you are a pedestrian and can't deal with that, you are doomed.

Well, my grandmother is old, but "doomed" is a bit of an exaggeration, no?
posted by griphus at 11:27 AM on July 21, 2011 [15 favorites]


A related video from PBS (found in the comments of the above article) Dangerous Crossing: A new suburbia as economy changes.
posted by fings at 11:29 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Care to back that up? 'Cause I'm pretty sure you're wrong; there might be places where you have to have an ID, but an ID is not a driver's license.

I have a couple of decades of living as an adult without a license to confirm this. When 95%+ of people produce a driver's license as identification, the entry-level worker who is screening for ID soon reaches the conclusion that a driver's license is the only ID. I have been denied my franchise in more than half of the elections I have tried to vote in in my life because I am disabled and do not drive. Last time (the Canadian federal election, a couple of months ago), despite trucking down to the Elections Canada office weeks in advance to make sure I was on the voters' list, I did not appear there, and despite having several pieces of mail showing my name and address (utility bills, etc) and government-issued photo ID (passport), I was turned away at the polls.

It is stupid and annoying. If you really, honestly believe that other ID will be accepted in place if a driver's license, I urge you to place your driver's license in the glove compartment of your car and leave it there for a year, removing it only for traffic stops. If you can do this and truthfully encounter no difficulty, I will happily give you a thousand dollars.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:29 AM on July 21, 2011 [14 favorites]


There are people who work in NYC and commute by plane, EmpressCallipygos. Yes, they'll usually have an exceedingly small flat in NYC given NYC's poorish airport connectivity. There are even more Parisians who work in London and commute by Eurostar, of course, again keeping a tiny flat in London.

That's as may be, but most would agree that when it comes to pubic transportation, that is the exception rather than the rule.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:31 AM on July 21, 2011


We of course feel very sorry for the parent's agony, but this isn't mutually exclusive with imputing some responsibility to that parent.

The huge issue I see with this case is that the parent who made an error in judgement is being punished significantly more severely than the impaired driver of the vehicle which struck and killed her child.
posted by Zophi at 11:31 AM on July 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


have a couple of decades of living as an adult without a license to confirm this. When 95%+ of people produce a driver's license as identification, the entry-level worker who is screening for ID soon reaches the conclusion that a driver's license is the only ID.

So, what you're saying is that some people misapply the law, not that it's the law that you have to have a driver's license to vote, which was the original, false, claim.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:32 AM on July 21, 2011


If you really, honestly believe that other ID will be accepted in place if a driver's license, I urge you to place your driver's license in the glove compartment of your car and leave it there for a year

I do not now, and have never had a driver's license. I used to use my passport for identification, but now use a state-issued identification card. I've never had any problem voting, or having either document recognized. And I'm in the US.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:33 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, ricochet biscuit. That's horrifying. And common in Canada, apparently?

As a non-driver in California, I can happily say that nobody ever blinked at my legal non-driver's-license ID, though. So that's one plus, I guess.

So, what you're saying is that some people misapply the law, not that it's the law that you have to have a driver's license to vote, which was the original, false, claim.


I think what rb was going for there was that even though legally s/he should have been able to vote, in PRACTICE they got screwed because apparently the people at the voting place thought you had to be a driver to vote.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:34 AM on July 21, 2011


Oh, and for the record, where I live you absolutely can identify yourself for voting with almost anything; I've bought booze and boarded planes with my passport, so I'd be perfectly fine taking up your bet.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:34 AM on July 21, 2011


So, what you're saying is that some people misapply the law, not that it's the law that you have to have a driver's license to vote, which was the original, false, claim.

The law in practice is, for all intents and purposes, the law.
posted by doublehappy at 11:35 AM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've never had my passport refused as identification in the U.S., but I rarely leave major metropolitan areas.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:35 AM on July 21, 2011


The driver's license thing might be local, because I voted in Canada a lot before I had a license and never had trouble using my provincial medical care card. I do know a story where a bunch of international graduate students could not buy alcohol in LA using only a bunch of non-US passports as ID because the store had a stupid policy.
posted by jeather at 11:36 AM on July 21, 2011


Back on traffic and society engineering, can anyone pushing for development of electric cars please stop?
posted by doublehappy at 11:37 AM on July 21, 2011


The law in practice is, for all intents and purposes, the law.

Well, no, that's not true, but either way the original claim was that law required the use of driver's licenses to identify yourself and it was cited as evidence that the government didn't value people without cars. The point falls apart because the claim is complete bunk(in the US at least); you have to identify yourself some places, but you don't need a driver's license.

It's a bit of derail, but people make claims that are, at best, ignorant and, at worst, deliberate lies, doesn't help the conversation.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:42 AM on July 21, 2011


In civil suits (which I realize this case isn't), there's a basic concept of "contributory negligence," meaning that the plaintiff, the person injured, may be partly responsible for what happened to them. I don't know why we should dispense with basic concepts about how the world works as soon as a black person is involved. I don't know why that's even supposed to be helpful for black people.

All I was saying is that a jury stacked with white people from a different socio-economic situation hardly qualifies as a "jury of her peers".
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:45 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Her peers would have had to take a day off work, find a sitter and take three buses to the courthouse.
posted by doublehappy at 11:47 AM on July 21, 2011 [44 favorites]


This story makes me sick to my stomach, and reflecting again on one of the unexpected differences in moving from Atlanta to the Bay Area.

In Atlanta, even at an intersection crosswalk where you're crossing the red, you wait until all the cars whose drivers aren't paying attention (or just don't care and want to make a right turn) go by. In Oakland & Berkeley, drivers stop mid-road if I even look like I might be approaching the curb. Took me a good three months (and many confused drivers wondering what I was doing) to break my habit of waiting patiently at the curb for all the cars to go by.

I'm sort of terrified I'll go back to visit and, unthinkingly, get run over immediately.
posted by deludingmyself at 11:49 AM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Back on traffic and society engineering, can anyone pushing for development of electric cars please stop?

Oh, good call. Because if we stop making low-emissions vehicles, several hundred million internal combustion engines will seize up as one and half a century of car-centred design will reform itself via some Rube Goldberg method into enlightened pedestrian-friendly design.

Cars aren't the problem here. The problem is an urban design regime, predominant since the heyday of Robert Moses, in which the ease of motor vehicle movement at maximum possible speed is the top priority in nearly every single street plan and transportation network.
posted by gompa at 11:51 AM on July 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


I have driven in this part of Georgia while on vacation visiting friends. To someone unfamiliar with the area, these suburban roads feel a little crazed. They are narrow and twisty, often bordered by thick woodlands. They felt like rural routes to me, but they're heavily travelled by people in a hurry at speeds high for the nature of the roads. I had little sense that anyone would chose to walk or bike them to go to a nearby park or school. I can't recall seeing any pedestrians.
posted by TimTypeZed at 11:51 AM on July 21, 2011


I can walk about three miles in an hour, so it would take me 6 minutes to walk 3/10ths of a mile. Make me responsible for a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, and it's going to take me a whole lot longer. More like a half hour, and that's just one way. That's a lot to ask of someone who can see their destination just across the road.

There is a crosswalk in front of my house. There are signs that say YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS IN CROSSWALK. There are clear sightlines of 1/4 mile in both directions, and the speed limit is 35. Still, people wanting to cross the street typically have to wait for a half-dozen cars to race by before one stops to let them cross.

I spent a week in Berkely in 1969. They had this thing called Absolute Pedestrian Right-of-Way. It was amazing. Anytime you stepped off the curb, all the cars would stop. I was going to say I heard that doesn't work there any more, which made me sad, but reading deludingmyself's comment made me happy I was wrong.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:53 AM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


In civil suits (which I realize this case isn't), there's a basic concept of "contributory negligence," meaning that the plaintiff, the person injured, may be partly responsible for what happened to them.

Legal Pedant time: Contributory negligence is a defense to negligence, where the injured party's negligence prevents the injurying party from being liable.

The idea that multiple parties(including the injured party) can be responsible, but that injured party can still receive compenstation, is called comparative negligence. Under that system, if the injured party is 10% responsible, they only get 90% of their award.

Both systems acknowledge the ability of multiple parties to be responsible, but in very different ways. Contributory negligence is an older system, used only in NC, VA, DC, MD and one other state (Maine, maybe?)
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:53 AM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


"You can see desire lines worn into the surface of grass. You cannot see them on asphalt."

I live on the outer edges of Chapel Hill, NC and there is some really unfortunate design with a divided highway that a lot of people cross because the bus stop is on one side, they live on the other, and it's another 20 minutes or so on the bus to loop around to the other side. I'd never checked until now but you can even see the paths that cut across the median on Google Maps.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 11:58 AM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why pedestrians cross mid-block. [via]
posted by mazola at 11:59 AM on July 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Stop signs are ok, and if that fucks up your traffic I suppose you could go back to the old standard, the Yield to Pedestrians sign, informing all drivers that these stripes on the road do in fact represent where people will cross, so please notice said people, and take pains to avoid flattening them.

The Yield to Pedestrians sign/crosswalks with no other stop signs or lights are goddamned terrifying as both a driver and a pedestrian. There are a bunch on my route to and from work, on a major, heavily-trafficked street, and I'm always worried that I won't spot a pedestrian crossing in time. It can be difficult to see a pedestrian waiting to cross in the median when there are multiple cars between you and them, and I live in fear that someone will dart across the road while I'm distracted by another car or something. With poorly designed streets and intersections that aren't pedestrian-friendly, it doesn't take an impaired driver to make a mistake.

It's a big change from Berkeley and the Bay Area, since Berkeley seems to more or less still have Absolute Pedestrian Right-of-Way. I have totally stepped out into an intersection in Berkeley while distracted or not paying attention, and drivers have always been really good about immediately stopping. You get even close to the curb and they'll stop, and frequently make eye contact so you know they've seen you, and gesture you on ahead. I am considerably more paranoid in LA as both a driver and pedestrian, where pedestrians appear to be a crime against the efficient flow of traffic.
posted by yasaman at 12:01 PM on July 21, 2011


Oh, good call. Because if we stop making low-emissions vehicles, several hundred million internal combustion engines will seize up as one and half a century of car-centred design will reform itself via some Rube Goldberg method into enlightened pedestrian-friendly design.

What? No.

Cars aren't the problem here. The problem is an urban design regime, predominant since the heyday of Robert Moses, in which the ease of motor vehicle movement at maximum possible speed is the top priority in nearly every single street plan and transportation network.

Saying "motor vehicle" was clever, but you're still talking about cars.
posted by doublehappy at 12:06 PM on July 21, 2011


Every bus stop should have a crosswalk, or every bus stop should be at a crosswalk. No exceptions.

It's just that simple.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:11 PM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Criminalization of walking is part of the ongoing criminalization of poverty.
posted by bq at 12:16 PM on July 21, 2011 [25 favorites]


The law in practice is, for all intents and purposes, the law.

Well, no, that's not true, but either way the original claim was that law required the use of driver's licenses to identify yourself and it was cited as evidence that the government didn't value people without cars. The point falls apart because the claim is complete bunk(in the US at least); you have to identify yourself some places, but you don't need a driver's license.

It's a bit of derail, but people make claims that are, at best, ignorant and, at worst, deliberate lies, doesn't help the conversation.


It is a bit of a derail, and my apologies for taking part in it, but my point was that it matters little what the law actually is if the people applying it believe it to be something else. At polling stations there is a list posted of acceptable ID. A couple of elections back I turned up, as is my wont, with my passport. The polling officer turned me away, so I asked for the elections officer in charge of the polling station. He also said no, I needed a driver's license. I pointed out the sign which had a bullet-pointed list of items, including a valid passport. He said that did not apply, and gave me a contact at Elections Canada to take it up with. Two months later, I got a nice letter from Elections Canada assuring me that they would place greater emphasis in the future on training elections officers. I added it to my file full of these. I still didn't get to vote, of course.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:18 PM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Crosswalks are just pretty lines on the pavement; they mean absolutely nothing.

I was working on a lengthy rant about my travails as a pedestrian in the unfriendly city, but this quote catches it all.

The "desire lines" concept is a really good one. For too long, we've focused urban design on the "desire lines" of cars; there needs to be some more thought given to the desire lines of pedestrians and cyclists, and we need to balance all three.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:19 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


This will be a moot point in 20 years when gas is $20 a gallon in the US and only the rich will be able to afford to drive. At least we'll know who to hunt down with the pitchforks when the time comes.
posted by dave78981 at 12:22 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "desire lines" concept is a really good one. For too long, we've focused urban design on the "desire lines" of cars; there needs to be some more thought given to the desire lines of pedestrians and cyclists, and we need to balance all three.

Small chance of that, I am afraid. The newly-elected mayor of the biggest city in our country declared on his first day in office, "Ladies and gentlemen, the war on the car stops today..."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:23 PM on July 21, 2011


And you get what, 15 seconds to cross the street in the first place before the red light starts blinking at you? (What is with that? I am a speedy walker/runner across the road and I still can't do it.)

Properly designed, the flashing red hand for peds is exactly the same thing as the yellow light for drivers; it starts flashing at the point where people who are already crossing the intersection have enough time to cross at a normal pace, but if you aren't crossing yet, you don't have enough time to make it across.

So relax. Unless you're, you know, poor and black in Atlanta or something. (I suppose if you're walking, you must already be poor and thus halfway worthless.)
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:23 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I live in this area, about four miles south of where this happened. For all the outrage about it, I can't say I'm surprised. Among most of the people who I've spoken to around here about this, the general reaction is, "Well, she WAS jaywalking" Ridiculous, but that's just the culture here in Cobb County, Georgia.

Pedestrians are considered inherently suspicious here. The local thinking is "why would you walk when you can drive?" People who can't, won't, or choose not to drive at any particular moment are looked at as being a nuisance at best, or a threat at worst. My 17-year-old daughter (who does not yet have a driver's license) was stopped and questioned by our local police a couple of weeks ago while walking to the grocery store, a mile or so away. She wasn't suspected of doing anything wrong, but pedestrians are out of the ordinary, so I guess the cops thought it was a good idea to find out what she was up to. Mrs. Deadmessenger has had similar experiences, in other parts of the area.
posted by deadmessenger at 12:25 PM on July 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


I take the bus several times a month in the Southeastern US city where I live, and I've noticed a few things about my fellow riders. None of them, that I've ever seen, or asked directly, carries a flashlight, or a signaling device, even though many are riding the bus at night, and intending to cross dark streets, not at a crosswalk, when they get off the bus. Very few, probably less than 1%, are wearing effective reflective clothing. They simply can't be easily seen by cars after dark.

Me? I always carry a Maglight and a signaling strobe I got at an Army/Navy surplus store when I'm out at night. Usually, I've also got a hat with some reflective tape, and in fall and winter, a jacket with reflective strips. Drivers can see me, a long way off, and when I turn on that strobe, the immediate traffic reaction is to slow down significantly, which is pretty gratifying when I'm crossing multi-lane divided highways, on foot.

The kid that darted out might still have been hit, even if he'd been seen. But if he wasn't seen, he had no chance at all.
posted by paulsc at 12:26 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, this rolls almost everything that is depressing and infuriating about the US into one story.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:27 PM on July 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


every bus stop should be at a crosswalk.

"Near" is much better than "at," in my opnion. As someone who is in roughly equal amounts a driver, pedestrian, bicyclist, and user of public transportation in my mid-sized urban area, Ihave seen repeatedly that having bus stops actually AT crosswalks can lead to not insignificant amount of confusion in intersections that are not otherwise controlled, and engendering confusion is never a good idea when peoples' lives may be at stake.

- The driver of a car thinks "Is that guy trying to cross the street or waiting for the bus?"
- The pedestrian trying to cross the street thinks "Is that car going to stop or does he think I'm waiting for the bus?"
- The guy waiting for the bus thinks "Why is that guy in the stopped car yelling and waving at me? Does he think I'm trying to cross the street?"
- The bus driver thinks "Do I need to pull in to the bus stop to pick that guy up or is he waiting to cross the street?"
- The bicyclist wonders "Is that guy going to step in front of me and kill us both or is he waiting for the bus?"
posted by dersins at 12:27 PM on July 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


My 17-year-old daughter (who does not yet have a driver's license) was stopped and questioned by our local police a couple of weeks ago while walking to the grocery store, a mile or so away. Mrs. Deadmessenger has had similar experiences, in other parts of the area.

Wow. That is ridiculous.
posted by cashman at 12:31 PM on July 21, 2011


The "design" is to use a goddamn crosswalk.

Where they bother to put them in at all.
posted by dry white toast at 12:36 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Small chance of that, I am afraid. The newly-elected mayor of the biggest city in our country declared on his first day in office, "Ladies and gentlemen, the war on the car stops today..."

I was in Toronto that day, and as my cab and I crawled slowly down the Gardiner Expressway to the airport during rush hour, I looked out the window and wondered at how decisive the car victory was. I mean, it didn't look like they had taken a single casualty.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:40 PM on July 21, 2011


I am writing this on my phone as I sit in a church parking lot while elizard buys some tomatoes and peaches.

The church is two miles from my house. It would take us about an hour and a half to walk here and back.

We have the time. We need the exercise. It's not even oppressively hot today, as Alabama summer temperatures go.

But: there are no sidewalks. There are no crosswalks. There are no trails. There is no safe way to get from A to B without getting in a car.

It sucks.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:43 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is one and only one real motivation for prosecuting this woman.

To make it more difficult for her to sue the responsible government entities for their negligence.


It may also have been a reaction to the media coverage:

Radley Balko: "Over the next month, as Guy was processed by Georgia's criminal justice system, Nelson buried and grieved for her son. But on May 14, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a long story under the headline, 'Jaywalkers take deadly risks.' The article mentioned Nelson and her son, pointing out that she hadn't been charged with any crime. Three days later, the Georgia Solicitor General's office charged Nelson with the three misdemeanors."
posted by homunculus at 12:46 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I should add that I think prosecutors should generally exercise their discretion not to prosecute parents who accidentally cause the deaths of their children, since the parent will already be suffering enough.

The Hardest Cases: When Children Die, Justice Can Be Elusive
posted by homunculus at 12:51 PM on July 21, 2011


Just realized that near me is an example of a city handling "desire lines" the right way.

In Downton Brooklyn there is a weird intersection where two streets (Fulton and Flatbush) cross at a sharp, nearly 10-degree angle. One of the bus stops is on the north side of Fulton, about a block east of the intersection - and most people on that bus are connecting to a subway on the south side of flatbush, about a block east of the intersection. For a long time, the only crosswalk was at that intersection -- and because it was such a weird intersection, people would have had to go through three crosswalks to get to the subway. So most people ended up crossing by jaywalking near the stop, where they would only have to cross a half a block south of the "point" of the intersection. ( check the map.)

Rather than discouraging people from doing that, I noticed that earlier this year that the city installed not just a crosswalk, but a traffic light at the very spot where people had been crossing, endorsing that "line of desire." ...sometimes a city gets it right.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:54 PM on July 21, 2011


I hate to add more fuel to the outrage here, but according to Georgia law, she wasn't even jaywalking in the first place. That and other interesting links on the story here.
posted by TedW at 12:54 PM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you really, honestly believe that other ID will be accepted in place if a driver's license, I urge you to place your driver's license in the glove compartment of your car and leave it there for a year, removing it only for traffic stops. If you can do this and truthfully encounter no difficulty, I will happily give you a thousand dollars.

As a non-driving adult living in the United States, I have not had a problem with having my ID accepted. Every state I've lived in issues some sort of "state non-driver ID" card. It's generally issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles and looks very much like a driver's license, sometimes in a different color. People generally have no problem recognizing it as a driver's license substitute.

A passport has advantages, of course: you can use it to leave the country, and you don't have to stand in line at the DMV to get one. But I've found that using the non-driver's ID card helps to smooth things along.
posted by baf at 12:56 PM on July 21, 2011


Ugh, I thought I edited it to read "may not have been jaywalking" as the article more accurately indicates.
posted by TedW at 12:57 PM on July 21, 2011


Argh. This is actually a better link (the bus stop at Fulton St. and Hudson Avenue is bookmarked there).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:58 PM on July 21, 2011


Nelson, 30 and African-American

I bet this is a major part of why the jury went for "guilty".

Anyway, you know what's better than crosswalks? Pedestrian underpasses. But I guess you don't have too many of them in the states?
posted by ymgve at 12:58 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was looking at the Transportation for America "Dangerous by Design" map and discovered that one of the half-dozen pedestrian fatalities in my town was at one of the intersections I mentioned in my last comment. ("signal by the Taco Bell") :(
posted by epersonae at 1:04 PM on July 21, 2011


Anyway, you know what's better than crosswalks? Pedestrian underpasses. But I guess you don't have too many of them in the states?

See, North America isn't like Europe. In an ideal world, pedestrian underpasses would would be great. As would sidewalks. But those new and wider highways don't build themselves, and we just haven't got any money left over!
posted by parudox at 1:07 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I should add that I think prosecutors should generally exercise their discretion not to prosecute parents who accidentally cause the deaths of their children, since the parent will already be suffering enough.

Moreover the sentence assures the children will suffer more than anyone, having been given what is effectively a life sentence, replacing their primary caregiver with the cold arms of the state.
posted by mek at 1:08 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's where I had the most sympathy for her "after a long trip with her three children, ages 2, 4, and 9".

Now, I don't know the circumstances, but I have been in the situation where I had two children, ages 2 and 6 and both of them claimed the inability to walk a single step further when there was a 1/8 mile to go to get home on a sidewalk. I doubted their claims, but one decided to raise the ante by dropping to the ground, limp. My best solution was to pick the older up and heave her onto my shoulders then pick up a limp two year old and carry him one handed while trying to prevent the older from falling off my shoulders.

Now, I'm not saying she was in those exact circumstances, but I would sure as hell have a whole lot more sympathy for her.

Unfortunately, I can also imagine that the jury was given a specific interpretation of the law and had to follow through on it. Questioning the assumption that the law or charge is unreasonable isn't their job, is it?

It sounds to me that her defense attorney was incompetent.
posted by plinth at 1:09 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I spent a week in Berkely in 1969. They had this thing called Absolute Pedestrian Right-of-Way. It was amazing.

I was born and raised in California and moved here to NC in my 40's. Along with all the other shocks to the system, I've had to get used to a very different attitude towards pedestrians. In the grocery store parking lot as you attempt to leave the store with your bags to go to your car the other cars don't stop. Every time this happens I want to scream at the drivers. I don't get it. Is it really so hard to understand that a human body has no chance against a half ton of metal? Presumably these are the same people who are about to park their cars and enter the grocery store themselves. So much for fucking famous courtesy in the South.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:13 PM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Anyway, you know what's better than crosswalks? Pedestrian underpasses.

Until Harry Brown shoots you under one.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:13 PM on July 21, 2011


I love it when I'm trying to walk across a crosswalk and the driver starts to rev up their car and start driving AT ME right when I'm in the middle of it.

I live in Chicago, and the worst offenders of this sort of behavior are the cab drivers. I just stop dead in front of them, turn, and glare. Slowly. Fuck 'em. I have the right of way.
posted by Windigo at 1:17 PM on July 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


It sounds to me that her defense attorney was incompetent.

Based on what? We've heard nothing about the trial, other than the charges, some facts, and the verdict have we? I don't know what her attorney did or didn't do, so I'm not sure how you're judging competence.

I was born and raised in California and moved here to NC in my 40's. Along with all the other shocks to the system, I've had to get used to a very different attitude towards pedestrians. In the grocery store parking lot as you attempt to leave the store with your bags to go to your car the other cars don't stop. Every time this happens I want to scream at the drivers. I don't get it. Is it really so hard to understand that a human body has no chance against a half ton of metal? Presumably these are the same people who are about to park their cars and enter the grocery store themselves. So much for fucking famous courtesy in the South.

This does not match my experience of being born and raised in NC at all, where were you? North Carolina (in my experience) is the land where people barely drive above the speed limit and stop for everything.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:19 PM on July 21, 2011


My 17-year-old daughter (who does not yet have a driver's license) was stopped and questioned by our local police a couple of weeks ago while walking to the grocery store, a mile or so away. Mrs. Deadmessenger has had similar experiences, in other parts of the area.

Wow. That is ridiculous.


When I lived in North Carolina, I had this happen all the time as well. Especially if I was walking in the evening (which in the summer-time was the only time it was bearably cool enough to take a walk). I had the same cop stop and question me twice. I could tell he was skeptical when I told him him I was just out for a evening walk. He questioned where I lived and why I was walking in the opposite direction (uh, cuz I'm taking a walk? Which usually involves walking away from your home?).

I would also have random people stop and offer me a ride all the time, thinking I must be broken down.

No one could fathom just walking around for the hell of it. There had to be a reason. Either I was under duress or up to no good.
posted by Windigo at 1:22 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyway, you know what's better than crosswalks? Pedestrian underpasses.

I have to say, as a woman, I don't really like pedestrian underpasses. If I can't get a crosswalk, I would prefer a bridge instead of an underpass since the latter presents a prime opportunity for someone to jump me without being seen. At least on a bridge, I'm out in the open; even if I have to climb some steps, it's better than the lack of visibility and frequently poor lighting of an underpass. (I understand that underpasses are preferable for people with mobility issues, however.)
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:24 PM on July 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wow. That is so not my experience of NC. I'm in the Raleigh area. Barely above the speed limit? Jesus you can't go 45 in the 45 mph zone here, 55 at least. Usually freeway traffic is 75 to 80.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:24 PM on July 21, 2011


Wow. That is so not my experience of NC. I'm in the Raleigh area. Barely above the speed limit? Jesus you can't go 45 in the 45 mph zone here, 55 at least. Usually freeway traffic is 75 to 80.

Raleigh is a fine place, but it's not really like the rest of the state, no doubt the speeding is the result of Yankees and people under their sway. Take 70 down toward the coast. If you go five miles over you'll be in the left hand lane, passing people the whole way down. I believe "land of the rolling roadlbock" is the term I've heard.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:28 PM on July 21, 2011


My brother lives in Florida, and he doesn't have a car. He was stopped by the cops in his neighborhood a couple of years ago and the cop demanded his social security number.

I was infuriated that he complied with the cop's request, but he pointed out that it was a lot easier to just do what the cop asked than to get arrested for the great crime of walking to the corner store to get some Crystal Lite.
posted by winna at 1:32 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah underpasses are not what I'd call pedestrian friendly. Here in LA the put them in when too many kids were getting hit by cars as they walked to school once upon a time. Heaven forbid we actually slow down/stop traffic for the sake of human life! It turns out tunnels under streets are excellent places to beat kids up, so now they are all locked shut.

Having sat through a number of meetings where city planning, engineers and assorted others all basically say "we prioritize moving cars over preventing/minimizing human injury and mortality" (but not in those words, obviously), I assure you it's a long way until US policies stops centering the personal automobile in our transportation designs at the expense of everything else.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:38 PM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


I might need to reread the article, but my understanding was that her child ran away from her and she followed to protect him (I feel like this statement was made by an advocacy group, so grain of salt, I guess?). If that is what happened then she wasn't jay-walking, surely.
posted by doublehappy at 1:43 PM on July 21, 2011


I have lived in quite a few places where infrastructure is not pedestrian friendly. I also have some slight mobility issues. Neither under passes or overpasses are easy for me. In most cases, stairs are involved. There is terrific overpass by the community college which has elevators at each end. FREIGHT elevators! Awesome! No steps unless 1. You want to, or 2. The elevators are not working. It's however an expensive solution.
Here they have been putting in traffic circles and I have been pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to cross at them. Only one lane of traffic, already slowed down.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:46 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sarah Goodyear has just posted an excellent follow-up to her post over at Grist. Watch that PBS video excerpt and then come on back here and try to explain how this was one criminally negligent mother's fault.
posted by gompa at 1:47 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I might need to reread the article, but my understanding was that her child ran away from her and she followed to protect him (I feel like this statement was made by an advocacy group, so grain of salt, I guess?). If that is what happened then she wasn't jay-walking, surely.

As I understand it, she was jaywalking, they waited in the median to cross the other side, and her son darted out.
posted by Zophi at 1:48 PM on July 21, 2011


Also, this is all reminding me of a great line in Hari Kunzru's novel Transmission:

"Anyone on foot in suburban California is one of four things: poor, foreign, mentally ill or jogging."
posted by gompa at 1:50 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I realize that this is pretty tangential to this thread, but it is one of those that made me realize that one of the most mundane things we deal with every day, the zebra crossing in this case, isn’t common all over the world. This is how they work in Austria (and many other European countries): If there is a pedestrian on or obviously intending to use the crossing, vehicles have to stop and wait for them.

Zebra crossings are obviously an inconvenience to drivers, especially considering that they are everywhere, but the concept generally works fine – there is no “drivers may or may not stop for you”. On the occasional 1.5 kilometer walk from the railway station to university, there is one signal-controlled pedestrian crossing, which is the only one where I have to wait for more than a couple of seconds.
posted by wachhundfisch at 2:07 PM on July 21, 2011


Based on what? We've heard nothing about the trial, other than the charges, some facts, and the verdict have we?
Point taken - in reading Georgia Code 40-6-393, it looks like her conviction fell under paragraph (c) - which is a hell of an open clause - anything under title 40 (with a small number of exceptions) is fair game for homicide by vehicle second degree if someone dies without malice aforethought. So if you take that to be gospel, then we're looking at 40-6-92 paragraph a:
Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway unless he has already, and under safe conditions, entered the roadway.
(aside, if she were blind and didn't have a cane or guide dog would she be prosecutable under 40-6-94?) and so I find it really hard to believe that a competent attorney would let that go. Really. Plea for something else, unless your goal is to fight a law that appears to be designed for drivers of motor vehicles being applied to a pedestrian.

And yes, I am curious about the court proceedings and what exact section she was charged under and how that was proven.
posted by plinth at 2:08 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


This really makes me want to exercise my Constitutional right to bear arms while I'm out biking or walking. Not getting any help from the 'authorities' so I'll do it myself. Anyone want to help me form the Bike Panther Party?
posted by zomg at 2:09 PM on July 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


And yes, I am curious about the court proceedings and what exact section she was charged under and how that was proven.

Yeah, I'm pretty curious because it seems so crazy from the outside, but I don't know Georgia law.

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if this was a client absolutely won't take a plea because "she didn't do anything wrong" situation. I'm not saying SHE did mind you, just that convincing a client who is morally innocent, but will be convicted anyway, to take a plea can be an ordeal.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:14 PM on July 21, 2011


I realize that this is pretty tangential to this thread, but it is one of those that made me realize that one of the most mundane things we deal with every day, the zebra crossing in this case, isn’t common all over the world. This is how they work in Austria (and many other European countries): If there is a pedestrian on or obviously intending to use the crossing, vehicles have to stop and wait for them.

The law is similar here in my (midwestern) US location, but the difference is that no one pays any attention to it. Maybe every fifteenth car will stop for you.

My university--you know, a place with a campus where pedestrians are significantly more numerous than in other areas--recently had to put in a concrete median in front of the library, because students couldn't even cross the street to get to the library safely. There was a crosswalk marked, but even if you got lucky and a car traveling in one direction stopped for you, that didn't mean that cars traveling in the other direction would. They also made the lane around the median a little bendy so cars would slow down.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:16 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Visualizing the accident scene, based on this picture.

- Intersection from satellite.
- Started from: bus stop around here. (No stop visible, but map images may be outdated.)
- Destination: apartment complex across the street, with bus station in front marking where they tried to cross.

Google Maps walking directions from starting bus stop to apartments. Note that instead of crossing the median, Google directs you back to a cross street--where there still isn't a pedestrian crosswalk.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:24 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


> I was in Toronto that day, and as my cab and I crawled slowly down the Gardiner Expressway to the airport during rush hour, I looked out the window and wondered at how decisive the car victory was. I mean, it didn't look like they had taken a single casualty.

There are still thousands of people walking, taking the bus and/or riding their bikes in Toronto. The war on cars will not be over until those people are in cars or have moved out of the city.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:39 PM on July 21, 2011


After a couple of bus/car pedestrian accidents a couple years back, Champaign-Urbana has been slowly but surely redesigning walkways and intersections on campus and downtown. We now have 'stop for pedestrian' signs at most of the non-intersection crossings. And they've added pedestrian bump outs (not us, just a nice illustration) to many of the intersections. Some of the most frequently used intersections on campus have become "all cross" (where a 30sec redlight is given in all directions for pedestrians to use the intersection), which I like.

That is so good to hear. I lived there during that string of accidents, which killed several promising students. One of them sat next to me in economics class. Made me rather terrified of traffic for some time.
posted by melissam at 2:47 PM on July 21, 2011


From TV Tropes: Mistook the Dominant Lifeform.

If you prefer eloquent dead scientists, Carl Sagan said it best (in Pale Blue Dot, describing what aliens might see as they approach the earth):
When you take pictures at a meter resolution or better, you find that the crisscrossing straight lines within the cities and the long straight lines that join them with other cities are filled with streamlined, multicolored beings a few meters in length, politely running one behind the other, in long, slow orderly procession. They are very patient. One stream of beings stops so another stream can continue at right angles. Periodically, the favor is returned. At night, they turn on two bright lights in front so they can see where they're going. Some, a privileged few, go into little houses when their workday is done and retire for the night. Most are homeless and sleep in the streets.
At last! You've detected the source of all the technology. the dominant life-forms on the planet. The streets of the cities and the roadways of the countryside are evidently built for their benefit. You might believe that you were really beginning to understand life on Earth. And perhaps you'd be right.
If the resolution improved just a little further, you'd discover tiny parasites that occasionally enter and exit the dominant organisms. They play some deeper role, though, because a stationary dominant organism will often start up again just after it's reinfected by a parasite, and stop again just before the parasite is expelled. This is puzzling. But no one said life on Earth would be easy to understand.
I'm letting others speak for me because I am too angry at this jury to speak myself.
posted by madcaptenor at 3:06 PM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


As I understand it, she was jaywalking, they waited in the median to cross the other side, and her son darted out.

She jaywalked earlier, but then she reached the safety of the median strip. If you're standing on a median strip you're not jaywalking, you're just standing on a median strip. Whether she planned to jaywalk in the future is irrelevant.

Also, it's difficult to blame the jury unless they ignored the law and facts of the case. More likely, on the facts presented by the prosecution, it was open and shut: The defendant does not dispute that she was jaywalking. If someone in your care dies while you are committing a crime, you are guilty of homicide. That is what you are deciding today, not whether or not it's right or wrong.
posted by doublehappy at 3:10 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having sat through a number of meetings where city planning, engineers and assorted others all basically say "we prioritize moving cars over preventing/minimizing human injury and mortality" (but not in those words, obviously), I assure you it's a long way until US policies stops centering the personal automobile in our transportation designs at the expense of everything else.

I have a theory that Americans have such little sense of control in their lives that the car is subconsciously seen as a legitimate means of expressing control and freedom.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:11 PM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


doublehappy: "Oh, good call. Because if we stop making low-emissions vehicles, several hundred million internal combustion engines will seize up as one and half a century of car-centred design will reform itself via some Rube Goldberg method into enlightened pedestrian-friendly design.

What? No.
"

Well I'm still scratching my head on why you are against electric cars, especially in relation to this topic.
posted by Reverend John at 3:11 PM on July 21, 2011


Well I'm still scratching my head on why you are against electric cars, especially in relation to this topic.

As the driver of an electric motorcycle-like-device, I'd hazard to guess it's the lack of noise issue. I can tell you that more than once, someone has stepped out in front of me, mid-block, because they only looked in one direction for on-coming traffic, assuming they could hear anything in the near-lane.

The Seattle police routinely set up a sting operation on the crosswalk between my home and work, and yet people still fly down the street ignoring people in/entering the walk all the time. They are currently repaving/striping this street to have a separated bike lane an what they call in-lane bus-stops where cars can't get around buses while they are loading. I suspect it will actually end up increasing driver frustrations levels such that while making things safer for bikes, they've made it worse for pedestrians. Time will tell.
posted by nomisxid at 3:37 PM on July 21, 2011


I doubt they'll actually give her any jailtime because it's become a relatively popular story for the media. I would assume (and it's entirely an assumption) that she was charged by the city because otherwise the city might be held liable for the death by not having a crosswalk there to service the people in the apartments riding the bus.
posted by kaminariko at 3:53 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a petition being sent to the Governor of Georgia. No idea if it will help but seems worth a try.
posted by leslies at 4:11 PM on July 21, 2011


The bus stop is visible in Street View, though the only thing indicating it's a bus stop is a single sign.
posted by ymgve at 4:12 PM on July 21, 2011


I do not drive or have a car and I depend on public transportation. Washington, DC has fairly good public transportation and in the city itself and older suburbs, it is still possible to be a pedestrian without taking your life in your hands, but in the exurbs there have been many pedestrian fatalities (usually at particular intersections).

Most crosswalks have not been designed with sufficient crossing time. I'm fit and walk quickly, but often I can't get across before the orange light starts blinking. I'm sure that a person with mobility issues or a parent with small children in tow could not make it.

I have read somewhere that the crossing signals are timed automatically by some central traffic computer, intended to expedite -- you guessed it -- automobile traffic.

The crosswalks with longer crossing times and countdown meters (recently installed) are in the city center -- anywhere you might expect to find tourists on foot visiting national landmarks, museums, and such.

I don't want to rant further about the people who stop with their car projecting into the pedestrian crossing zone, as if grabbing an additional six feet made a difference to their schedules, forcing you to walk around them, either into the oncoming traffic zone or behind them, assuming they will not suddenly back up. I don't know which group I hate more, these or the people who slowly inch forwards.
posted by bad grammar at 5:22 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who would you call to complain about this? It sounds like she is being sentenced on July 26.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:40 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Portland, Maine, the Amtrak/Concord Trailways terminal is only accessible by roads with no shoulder.

In the winter, you are forced by snowbanks to walk in the path of traffic in order to get to the bus station. This is to get to a terminal which is theoretically for the use of people who aren't in cars. It's really fucking scary.

Somebody, somewhere, let this happen. It's an obvious problem and would be fixed by a plowed footpath and maybe a tunnel under the highway offramp, but all they care about is the Old Port, where the tourists with money walk.

City planners who make it suicidal to be a working-class pedestrian should be tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a sharp-edged rail.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:56 PM on July 21, 2011


I live off of this road.

What they don't tell you is that people routinely jaywalk within easy distance to crosswalks. For every poor single working mother who has to walk half a mile to the nearest intersection, I've seen one who drags her kids across traffic because she can't be bothered to walk an extra hundred yards.

I'm more pissed about the lack of sidewalks, because those would actually be used.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 6:23 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know how common it is to need a driver's liscense to vote in Canada generally, but I've never had a problem in the metro Toronto area, and neither have my many non-driver relatives. Maybe elections officials are more used to non-drivers here in TTC-land.

But certainly my mother has had serious problems opening up bank accounts and renting videos; me, I used to dread being carded buying liquor, even though it was perfectly legal. I learned which liquor stores carded and which didn't.

I've heard we might get non-driver ID in Ontario; they had it in Connecticut and it was great - $10 for valid ID.
posted by jb at 6:46 PM on July 21, 2011


I've heard we might get non-driver ID in Ontario

It just happened last month.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:53 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The prosecution of a grieving mother who may possibly have lost control of her kid for a moment should never have been brought. I can only hope this gets appealed.

Unfortunately, "The verdict wasn't fair and the jury was a bunch of idiots" is not a basis for appeal. My mind reels that this was brought to trial at all. What on earth was the prosecutor thinking, "This woman, with minimal resources, just lost one of her children through very little thought of her own, an accident that was a combination of bad circumstances and bad planning on the part of the locality. Guess I'd better send her off to prison!"
posted by Deathalicious at 6:59 PM on July 21, 2011


thought fault
posted by Deathalicious at 6:59 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know how common it is to need a driver's liscense to vote in Canada generally, but I've never had a problem in the metro Toronto area, and neither have my many non-driver relatives. Maybe elections officials are more used to non-drivers here in TTC-land.

I don't recall ever having a problem during the eight or ten years I lived in Toronto. Hamilton was a mixed bag. In Ottawa, every single election seemed to bring problems, and in Burlington likewise. Burlington has a population density about 15% that of Toronto, of course, and while I have never been stopped by the police for walking somewhere (I suppose as a middle-aged fat white dude, I am not a likely-looking criminal in the minds of the police), I often do see passing drivers craning their necks to see where my car might have broken down.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:16 PM on July 21, 2011


This is one of those things where everyone at some point in their lives needs to go without a car for a year. It doesn't seem to dawn on many drivers that pedestrians are in fact people who have a legitimate need to enter the street to get where they are going.
posted by papersnprayers at 7:52 PM on July 21, 2011


The Phoenix-metro area is not set up for pedestrians, either. Often, I have a considerable walk just to get from the corner sidewalk to the building technically located on the corner, since entrances are set up for vehicles, not walkers or bikers.

Nthing crosswalks as useless designs. I find them to be quite dangerous and, during the season I'm biking, I get bumped by a car edging in at least 1x a month. It's often quite safer to cross mid-road because traffic is coming from fewer directions.

Also, people drive here like there is no one else on the road but them.
posted by _paegan_ at 9:02 PM on July 21, 2011


Near me there's a situation just like this. A bus stop is across a four-lane busy road from two large apartment buildings, and right there is a road that Ts into this road, along with a busy street light 1/4 mile up the road, so there are bursts of fast cars along with cars trying to make left turns to/from the four lane road among jaywalking pedestrians. They are 'cheaper' apartments, which means a number of people who live there don't have cars, and take the bus. Here's a link to a Google pic.

I make these turns here a lot and it drives me bananas every time. Well, it happened a few weeks ago--a girl got killed crossing the street. The community reacted with outrage.

Now the city is putting up street lights here, and in the mean time they've moved the bus stop up the street near the existing traffic light.

I agree that most city planning is planning of auto traffic. People have to die before they look at the pedestrian traffic patterns.
posted by eye of newt at 9:55 PM on July 21, 2011


evidenceofabsence: " Well, first off, the crosswalk was 3/10 of a mile = 1584 feet = 483 meters from the bus stop. Second, the person in question has to walk that four times (to the cross walk, to the bus stop, from the bus stop, from the crosswalk), which makes for 1.2 miles = 6336 feet = 1.9 kilometers traveled out of the way for no reason."

Don't forget with 3 small children, who may be tired, hungry, cranky, have sore feet, etc. You can't carry all 3. Heck, I can barely carry 2 kids at once and I don't like to do it at all.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:56 PM on July 21, 2011


I'm not entirely sure where "Design" enters into this... other than the fact that the world we live in is "designed" by and for rich people.
posted by j03 at 1:06 AM on July 22, 2011


Also, I think it would be fascinating to see a transcript or something of that court case. I can't understand how the court came to such a surreal conclusion. Demon magic?

Kaycee Anthony?
posted by vhsiv at 4:54 AM on July 22, 2011


If you want to see how to do pedestrian underpasses wrong, visit Beijing. Except for the one under Chang An Jie between Tiananmen Square and the entrance to The Forbidden City, the ones I've seen were all dark, populated by street vendors of questionable wares, and probably a great place to get mugged.

The one at Tienanmen is well-lit and probably heavily policed. I'm afraid that's a requirement for keeping users of underpasses safe, since street-level observers can't see what's going on in them, as they can on bridges.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:01 AM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been living in Nashville for a year, having moved from the Pacific Northwest--and lately, honestly, I can't wait to move back. I hate walking places, I gave up biking, I hate drivers blowing through stop signs, I hate getting shouted at. My first day here, I was on foot headed to check out the campus area, I stepped off the curb at an intersection with stop signs, a guy just blew through it turning and almost hit me by less than a foot -- I smacked the side of his car with my hand and shouted, totally terrified that some crazy person is driving like this.

The guy stopped immediately, got out of his car and came after me for smacking his car, screaming at me (I've had a few people tell me they were going to kill me, but not on such little grounds). So, my first impression of Tennessee has proven to be pretty accurate over the last year.

I don't ride my bike anymore. I don't walk very many places. A handful of my friends all got hit either on their bikes or walking (by cars), all hit and runs to varying degrees of severity, the cops just laughed at all of them when they tried to report it. After all, you're just gonna get yourself killed out there! I've had people swerve in their cars to scare me, missing my by a couple of inches -- on foot and on bike. I wonder sometimes if I did something terrible in a past life.

Sorry, Tennessee, but the fake Southern courtesy that stops once ya'll get in your cars is bullshit. I never realized how privileged I was to live in cities where people actually stopped for pedestrians and bicyclicsts (I can't believe I used to complain about Eugene and Portland). I hate that I drive everywhere, at least right now I rationalize it because the heat index is over 100 degrees every day--that and between men being shitty when I walk to the store, it makes me feel awful that the only time I feel safe lately is when I'm in my fucking death machine. I imagine a lot of people must feel this way-- safe in their cars.

There are very few bike lanes. They aren't actually bike lanes -- as best as I can tell, they are in fact "passing on the right hand side" lanes, given how they're used. I live about 3 miles from my school, and it takes me about 45 minutes by bus to get there, and I consider myself very lucky with the bus system. I mean, it's faster than I can jog.

if someone tries to run you over and you shoot them while they're in their car, they tried to commit vehicular homicide, so you'd be in the right? right? sometimes I wish brandishing wasn't illegal, because I would like to put the fear back into them for once.
posted by circle_b at 6:50 AM on July 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


I've not had any trouble voting in Burlington or Hamilton with a passport. You *do* need an additional form of ID with your address on it though- A bank statement counts. Could that be the problem? If you do have problems I strongly recommend pre-voting (shorter lines anyway), then you can contact Elections Canada between then and election day if there is a problem.

I'm living in Vancouver (ok, Burnaby) right now, posting this before I head to work (I know, I'm running way late because I stopped to read this) and am very lucky- The bus stop is literally next door. There is a devided road out front of my house, and to prevent people from crossing it they put up a fence in the middle. However, they also put a pedestrian overpass on it, connecting the two bus stops. A really *nice* overpass that is all ramps, no stairs, spiralling design to keep the grade small, and is *wide* Like, 10 people could walk abrest wide. Can we please get these things everywhere?
posted by Canageek at 9:01 AM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nothing says "f*** you, pedestrian" like a sidewalk that just comes to an abrupt end.
posted by epersonae at 9:04 AM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


@Canageek: I could handle an over pass like that totally on foot, as long as no snow was involved! It's stairs that are a problem for me. A person in a wheel chair or power chair could probably handle it. Love the idea.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:07 AM on July 22, 2011


Katjusa Roquette: Vancouver! They don't know what snow is! I mean, real snow anyway, not the 1 cm dusting they call snow.

I should mention that when I walk to work I usually take the short root that doesn't have the giant hill, that also doesn't have a sidewalk. Most of it is fine, as there is walking space beside the road on the grass, but there is a bridge I walk along at one point with just a paved shoulder, luckily an extra-wide one. That was scary the first time, but then I discovered Vancouver drivers will move to the other side of the lane for you. Wouldn't want to do this in Montreal (It is my opinion that no one in Montreal knows how to drive based on 2 months in Point Claire).

There are nights like last night, when I was heading home from work at 9 pm (Thus why I don't care if I'm late today) and realized I'd worn all dark colours that day... So I actually took the bus, then zoned out and passed my stop...as my phone with Google Maps died, so I couldn't just get off and find my way home. So I had to take the bus all the way to the other end, skytrain back to my starting point, then the bus a second time. Damn me for only doing the dark load this week.

Also: I get pissed at drivers who start moving before I'm done walking, regardless of what the light says. If it was walk when I started I am finishing, no matter what the light says now. What am I going to do, magically jump to the other side the second it turns red? I will stare down drivers who try and move, or who don't stop quickly enough at the red light. If you are going to hit me you are damned well going to be looking me in the eye when you do it.
posted by Canageek at 9:22 AM on July 22, 2011


f someone tries to run you over and you shoot them while they're in their car, they tried to commit vehicular homicide, so you'd be in the right? right?

Probably not. It sounds like you're in one of those jurisdictions that would charge you with Felony Jaywalking.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:50 AM on July 22, 2011


If you want to complain to the Georgia Governor or call for clemency, here is the contact form.


Her sentencing is on July 26.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:03 PM on July 23, 2011


Raquel Nelson has been sentenced to 12 months probation, with the option of requesting a new trial.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:41 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Raquel Nelson’s Absurd Prosecution Was Common For Black Women
posted by homunculus at 12:07 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mother charged in jaywalking death of son chooses new trial over probation
posted by homunculus at 12:08 PM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


« Older Initially the conventional wisdom was that spacesu...  |  The Alamo Drafthouse cinema ch... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments