The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for February 24th, 2014

Ped X-ing

As noted here, police apprehended a female jogger during a jaywalking sting in Austin last week, startling the woman, then proceeded to drag her to a squad car and arrest her for failing to produce I.D.

I was reminded of this article from a couple months back about the L.A.P.D. busting pedestrians with $197 tickets for stepping off the curb seconds after the “DON’T WALK” sign had started flashing. $197!

I’m not a confrontational person, but if there is one issue that could plausibly lead to my being tazed by a cop, it is this awesomely stupid and unfair harassment of pedestrians. I live in Austin; the traffic is generally ghastly. People traveling on foot deserve encouragement and respect, not gotcha operations that slap them with outrageous fines.

And what selective concern about safety! I can’t be trusted to cross the middle of the street when no cars are coming, but talking on a cellphone while driving is legal in many places. But hey, if you’re proceeding on the “WALK” signal when a distracted driver turns into you, it’s no problem, right?

I realize there are pedestrians who do unsafe things like wandering across highways drunkenly in the middle of the night, or obliviously crossing at a green light in front of traffic. Police should be focusing on these egregious cases, not the majority of people going about their business without posing real safety risks. And again: while I don’t know what the Austin fines are, L.A.’s $197 is way too steep, with the potential to cause hardship for many people.

Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist for Daily Kos, The Nation, In These Times, Politico and other publications throughout the US. She received the 2023 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning from the National Press Foundation, and is a recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. She is also a Pulitzer Finalist.



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