Weaving through Boston traffic on any given day can be a traumatic experience. Cars and trucks pop out of side streets, apparently without so much as a glance for possible other traffic. Vehicles stop at random to chat with a passing friend, make deliveries, or because it’s a nice day and they feel like soaking up a little ambiance. Right turns are routinely made from the left lane while traffic signs and lights are ignored. It’s common to see a policeman in a marked car drinking coffee and watching sleepily while the chaos swirls about him.


“He who gets to the intersection first has right-of-way” is the real law of the land, and woe to any driver who fails to understand this basic principle. Every once in a while, an unlucky driver gets a ticket for a moving violation, but on the whole — it’s a free-for-all.

What really gets me are the pedestrians. It’s bad enough needing 360 degree vision to watch for other vehicles — and pot holes the size of tank traps — but pedestrians are the worst.

Since most pedestrians also drive, you’d think they’d know better. By adulthood, you figure they’d know not to run out from between parked cars and to look both ways before crossing. Nope. Pedestrians have far more faith in my car’s brakes than I do and appear to have a childlike belief in their own invulnerability

Not long ago, one of the Boston papers made a big deal about punishing motorists for failing to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. As far as I can see, you can stop at every cross walk without ever encountering a pedestrian. I’ve watched presumably sane adults lurch into traffic in mid-block when they could safely cross by walking a few steps left or right to a cross walk. A motorist who hits a pedestrian is wrong no matter what. The law is clear. Pedestrians have the right of way.

Phooey I say! Time to rethink this whole issue. Let’s give pedestrians the boot! That’s right. Let’s pass some anti-jaywalking laws with teeth. Jaywalkers will be ticketed. The city will reap a bonanza like they do from parking tickets already. But how, you cry, could the city enforce the laws and make perpetrators pay? After all, if it weren’t for having to register cars, no one would pay parking tickets either.

Here’s my plan. The first two offenses are just regular tickets. Like parking tickets. Orange. Self-addressed. Insert your check, and stick a stamp on the cover and forget it. But on the third offense, a quick computer check flashes the message: Chronic Hard Core Jay Walker.

Out comes the boot, modified for a human foot. In male and female models. Attached at the ankle, the perp must now drag this 10 pound sucker for the next 6 hours. Removal requires payment of a hefty fine, and of course, can only be done by the appropriate city official.

That’ll slow’em down.

In my mind’s eye, I see a rapid changeover from arrogant, heedless pedestrians, to careful, mannerly walkers who use crosswalks, wait for lights to change, and don’t dash out into the street without looking. I see a new day dawning, when all I need fear are cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles coming at me from all directions — but no pedestrians.

It brings tears to my eyes. It really does.

Categories: city, Humor, Photography, Transportation, Urban Landscape

Tags: , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. You need to be in public office!! Where can we go to nominate you for public service??? BRAVO!!


  2. The new parking fines were set by City Council at the end of November weeks after it was revealed the city has nearly $3 million in outstanding parking tickets left to collect. One offender owns $30,000 alone.


  3. An NYC cop once wanted to write me a jaywalking ticket. Then we both started laughing too hard to continue.

    Of NY, Chicago, Boston, London, Paris, Jerusalem, I’ve found London to be the worst – if only because of the squiggly lines all over the road.
    I liked that a lot of Jerusalem had wrought iron rails along the sidewalk so you could only cross at the openings.


    • Jerusalem suffers from a bad case of roads built for donkeys, not cars … and REALLY aggressive drivers … but London. Well, London. Not only is the whole left-right thing hard for non-British drivers and pedestrians, but for the very first (and last) time in my life, someone actually said “you can’t get there from here” even though I could see where I needed to go. I hated both walking and driving in London — but I loved London. Besides, overall the Brits are pretty good about following the rules. Bostonians are anarchists at heart — the legacy of Sam Adams lives on, probably through his beer. No one obeys the rules. Not the drivers, not the walkers, not the pols, not nobody no way 🙂

      The two best walking cities to which I’ve ever been were Dublin and Jerusalem. San Francisco and close third. Boston has sections great for walking (e.g. Beacon Hill, Downtown Crossing), but a lot of the city (the theatre district, symphony, Government Ctr., hospital city) are a nightmare for everyone and really dangerous. There’s an hilarious book available erratically (they keep updating it) called “WILD IN THE STREETS: THE BOSTON DRIVERS HANDBOOK.” The last version I have is from 2000 and was called “The Big Dig Edition.” It actually has a chart of how many points you get for hitting who. Hitting the Guv gets you a solid 100 points.


      • Only 100 points??? You’d think there were Govs on every corner.
        For a long time, my old car (a 91 explorer std transmission) didn’t have a horn. So when the light changed, I would be in neutral and rev the engine at pedestrians.
        Seriously, it was MUCH more effective than a horn.
        (And fun to watch their expressions as they realized what I was doing.)

        NYC (Manhattan anyway) is a very walkable city too.


        • Yes, actually it is and when I lived there, I did a lot of walking, once from the Fillmore East to E. 84th St … a very long walk but we were psyched. And the last time we were there, a couple of years ago, we did a fair amount of walking too as we were staying in the middle of the city right next to Grand Central Station. Even took a subway, thus being forcibly reminded what smelly, NOISY things the NY subways are.

          We walked a lot back in the day. We were all young. A little harder these days but still the best way to get around Manhattan.


  4. Wish I could find that bumper sticker again. My sentiments have not changed.

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. This was hilarious! When was the last time you drove in New York City!


    • Not long enough. I’ve driven in London, Dublin, San Francisco, Montreal, New York, Washington, Baltimore and of course Jerusalem — and others. Of all the cities I have driven in Boston has the most chaotic insane drivers. Not the fastest or most aggressive, but the most unpredictable. And the most aggressive pedestrians. Garry used to have a bumper sticker that said “So many pedestrians, so little time.” It’s the ONLY bumper sticker he ever put on his car.


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