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.