Mike Stevens | May 11, 2008

In principle, I don't mind pedestrianism. I give it a go myself, every now and again. Its a good way to travel distances that aren't worth cold-starting an engine for, or if you're pretty sure your destination offers a high probability of seeing your car up on bricks mere moments after you leave it.

What I don't like, however, are pedestrians who jaywalk in busy traffic. I don't drive on your footpaths when you're window shopping; don't walk on my roads when I'm cruising along.

I was reminded of this again when I read a Sydney newspaper about a Sydney CBD intersection that posed an "intolerable risk" to pedestrians. I quote:

"The buses were withdrawn from travelling east up Druitt Street in November after a spate of accidents involving pedestrians stepping in front of buses, including one fatality."

Here's a novel concept for reducing accidents with pedestrians: stop walking in front of buses.

How can jaywalkers not notice a massive bus bearing down on them? What rock have they been living under that has robbed them of the ability to judge distance and approach speed to work out if it's safe to cross? Short of being a Neanderthal who traversed time from their natural wheel-less era to the modern day, any person with two working brain cells should be able to work out if it's safe to cross the path of a several ton missile without collision. In case of doubt, the self preservation instinct of even a baser animal would tell them that it'd be better not to move.

If I want to cross their footpath, I wait until all the pedestrians have walked by and then I do it across a designated intersection—such as a driveway. If traffic lights control that driveway, which they sometimes do for carparks in busy areas, then I follow the traffic signals. Green = go. Red = stop.

In reciprocation, if you want to cross my road—and it is my road; I don't know of a road tax or fuel excise for pedestrians—then do so in designated crossings and give way to me if I'm anywhere near you. Follow the traffic signals if they are present. Drivers can do it, so can you.

In other words: when they step into my domain, they should extend me the same respect that they expect me to give to them when I roll into theirs.

jaywalking2

I don't buy into this "pedestrians have right of way" bollocks. If you take the same human and put them on foot or in a car, the person on foot:

  1. has greater visibility due to a lack of inherent "blind spots"
  2. is travelling at a slower speed, which means your reaction time—and your momentum—carries you a shorter distance, allowing you can stop a lot quicker
  3. does less damage to themselves when colliding with another human while avoiding a car, whereas two vehicles colliding when one-panic stops to avoid the pedestrian brings slightly more destruction.

With all these natural advantages, it's logical that jaywalkers should demonstrate duty of care as much as a motorist.

It's tantamount to suicide to go walking in front of a heavy piece of machinery travelling at double a human's sprinting pace. Why should someone else be responsible for their death if they are either trying to kill themselves, or can't even be bothered caring enough themselves to show a reasonable amount of caution?

What I propose is that cars have the right of way on the road. If a pedestrian gets hit outside of a footpath or crossing (while the crossing is indicating that they can cross) then the burden of proof lies upon them to prove that they weren't being idiots. On a footpath or crossing of course the driver is at fault, but if someone is jaywalking and doesn't leave me enough room to miss them, then they owe me a new front bar and bonnet... and they can pay up before they worry about their medical bills.

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