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 nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.



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