Angry Anglo: Keep Jaywalking, Montreal

A potentially costly affair.
Angry Anglo: Keep Jaywalking, Montreal

Look both ways before you cross the street. That was one of the first lessons my parents taught me when I was old enough to walk. If the coast is clear, then you’re good to go. If there are cars coming, you wait for them to pass. It doesn’t take any superior judgment to figure this one out. It’s very simple.

Apparently, the Montreal police don't seem to think we're up to the task. If you're caught jaywalking in our fair city, you will be slapped with a $37 fine.

Naysayer: "Well if you didn't jaywalk, you wouldn't even have to worry about that."

Although this may be counterintuitive, jaywalking, when done right, is actually safer than passively crossing the street. By "done right" I mean looking both ways before you cross the street. It makes you more aware of your surroundings and any oncoming cars. It's great if you wait for the little crosswalk man, but if there is an irresponsible motorist who doesn't stop at the red light and you blindly trust the signal, you're in trouble.

Naysayer: "Cars have to abide by the law, so should pedestrians!"

Here's the thing -- Laws are meant to protect people and jaywalking doesn't harm anyone besides (potentially) the jaywalker. As a jaywalker, you understand that what you are doing has consequences. Once you decide to jaywalk, you accept the fact that if you're not smart about what you're doing, you may pay the price.

A driver on the other hand, needs to abide by the law. They have the potential to kill someone if they decide to neglect a red light or a stop sign.

This city has a huge student population and lots of business people downtown who are in a rush. They have places they need to go and don’t want to wait around at the curb for the light to change. These are intelligent people capable of “smart jaywalking,” i.e. looking both ways and crossing the street when there are no cars coming.

Enforcing jaywalking laws sends a clear message to these pedestrians: your freedom of mobility in a public space is limited. In essence, this move empowers cars and takes the power away from those who take to the city by foot.

This is the wrong approach! Pedestrians should own the downtown core. One of the great things about this city is how walkable it is. The police should not be discouraging pedestrians. On the contrary, they need to encourage an activity that promotes a healthy lifestyle and cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a Montreal Reddit post from February 2013, undercover cops were seen giving out jaywalking tickets near De La Savanne metro station. Seriously?! It’s that much of an issue in this city that we have undercover police officers on the case? What happened to the days when police officers had to deal with real crimes?

I've gone on for long enough. Let's let comedian Hannibal Buress tell you a story about his experience jaywalking in Montreal:

http://vimeo.com/tonyorcena/hannibaljaywalking

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