Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jaywalking and Money Walking: A Cost/Benefit Analysis

Journal Entry February 25, 2010: Weight = 171.2 lbs.; Coinage = $1.79, 44 pennies, 2 nickels, 5 dimes, 3 quarters; Glass bottles retrieved = 3; Ground scores = 2.

Journal Entry February 26, 2010: Weight = 171.4; Coinage = $. 84, 59 pennies, 1 quarter ( found the quarter on the last block of a three mile walk, thought it was going to be an all pennies day, and that is not bad); Glass bottles retrieved = 25; Ground scores = 2.

Journal Entry February 28, 2010: Weight = 170.8 lbs; Coinage = $5.03, 98, pennies, 8 nickels, 14 dimes, 9 quarters (a good total to close out February); Glass bottles retrieved = 2; Ground scores = 3 including a very nice outdoor grill.

Feature Entry: Jaywalking and Money Walking: A Cost/Benefit Analysis

It is 6:30 a.m., the streets are essentially empty, a hot money spot is across the street mid way between intersections; should the MoneyWalker jaywalk or go to the corner and double back? Yes, according to all law enforcement policies, no according to Tom Vanderbilt in his blog “In Defense of JayWalking."

Jaywalking is defined as crossing a street at a place other than marked cross walks, street corners; or walking against a signal light. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 6,000 pedestrians are killed and another 84,000 suffer nonfatal injuries each year. Jaywalking is against most state laws and is punishable by a modest fine, but few are actually issued a citation, and law enforcement officers report that jaywalking laws are difficult to enforce.

Vanderbilt is an unrepentant jaywalker. However, he does not defend the “egregious jaywalkers who defy logic and physics in their wayward perambulations.” He defines himself as a careful jaywalker who “frankly find the notion of waiting for a signal when no cars are in sight to be faintly ridiculous and anti-urban.” He thinks state laws are biased against pedestrians and points to countries such as Holland that have essentially dropped laws against jaywalking and have passed laws that place more blame on motorists.

Among many of his recommendations are to provide more proper crossings in the places he calls “desire lines,” the places people instinctively use to conserve energy. He also takes issue with traffic signals that fail to provide a “leading pedestrian interval” so that the walker is protected from eager drivers that fail to stop when making left and right turns at intersections.

Fitness walkers are by definition zoomers and are impatient in terms of maintaining an elevated heart rate. A red traffic light is irritating especially when a car is not approaching for blocks in any direction. But is jaywalking safe even for seasoned walkers? The MoneyWalker gives a qualified yes. From the very beginning of ambulation, the human develops sophisticated time/space decision making skills. By adulthood, the pedestrian is a master at relating his/her ability to judge time, distance, and space with that of other walkers, bikers, and automobile drivers. The decisions include making predictions about what others are going to do.

But prediction is a dangerous proposition. If we predict incorrectly the speed of a moving car in terms of arrival, then jaywalking can result in tragedy. The driver has all the power. Thus, the MoneyWalker is a judicial jaywalker and is especially vigilant in terms of the dangers of prediction. Each decision to jaywalk involves a cost/benefit analysis. Is the time saved and convenience worth the risk? The operative word is vigilance, vigilance, vigilance, especially at traffic lights and cell phone crazy drivers or drivers just in a hurry that can’t be bothered to yield for the walker before making an intersection right or left turn.

Should you jaywalk? Probably not, but the impulse to take the chance is not easily suppressed. It seems silly to be bothered by the inconvenience of "artificial" barriers to efficiency such as cross walks. We must all make the decision individually. But please, do not try to defy physics and good sense in order to save a second or two of time.

Careful out there!


1 comment:

  1. They issue citations here for jaywalking. There are two places that I do it on my ralks. They are both in an area where police officers stop to get coffee in the mornings. I have often wondered how long I can go before getting a ticket.