The facts and data presented in the webinar are illuminating and disturbing. Pedestrian deaths are not accidents, nor are they random, but they are a part of a systemic problem, with systemic causes. We have a car-oriented culture by design on the part of the automotive industry. There is a need for engineers (and there are some) to step up to acknowledge that 6000 deaths a year of people walking in the US is unacceptable. Black and brown people are the most common victims of pedestrian crashes.
Asbury Park is a small city with a lot of automotive traffic, and a high percentage of residents under the “poverty line”. Traffic is moving at unsafe speeds most of the time throughout the city. We need to reduce speeds by building infrastructure that prioritizes people walking and micro-mobility. While we don’t advocate for enforcement by police, we do advocate lowering speed limits, and monitoring with speed cameras. #20isplenty.
There is a need for engineering, education, and enforcement – not by police – to keep streets safe for the most vulnerable road users, many of whom are Black and other people of color, and many of those are poor and must walk or ride bikes for transportation.
This website and blog are intended to be an educational tool for the community. We hope that supporters of Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition will share the site, buy the book, and watch the webinar (a little over an hour) and spread the word about how we can make Asbury Park a safer, healthier city.
“The face of the pedestrian safety crisis looks a lot like Ignacio Duarte-Rodriguez. The 77-year old grandfather was struck in a hit-and-run crash while trying to cross a high-speed, six-lane road without crosswalks near his son’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. He was one of the more than 6,000 people killed while walking in America in 2018. In the last ten years, there has been a 50 percent increase in pedestrian deaths.
The tragedy of traffic violence has barely registered with the media and wider culture. Disproportionately the victims are like Duarte-Rodriguez—immigrants, the poor, and people of color. They have largely been blamed and forgotten.
In Right of Way, journalist Angie Schmitt shows us that deaths like Duarte-Rodriguez’s are not unavoidable “accidents.” They don’t happen because of jaywalking or distracted walking. They are predictable, occurring in stark geographic patterns that tell a story about systemic inequality. These deaths are the forgotten faces of an increasingly urgent public-health crisis that we have the tools, but not the will, to solve.
Schmitt examines the possible causes of the increase in pedestrian deaths as well as programs and movements that are beginning to respond to the epidemic. Her investigation unveils why pedestrians are dying—and she demands action. Right of Way is a call to reframe the problem, acknowledge the role of racism and classism in the public response to these deaths, and energize advocacy around road safety. Ultimately, Schmitt argues that we need improvements in infrastructure and changes to policy to save lives.
Right of Way unveils a crisis that is rooted in both inequality and the undeterred reign of the automobile in our cities. It challenges us to imagine and demand safer and more equitable cities, where no one is expendable.”
Charles T. Brown and Angie Schmitt are two of the top experts on pedestrian safety in the country, who think “it is time for cities to consider decriminalizing jaywalking or eliminating the infraction altogether. ” Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition could not agree more. Just last week a group of peaceful protesters were walking in the street front of the site of a recent police shooting when the organizer of the protest was arrested for being in the street. There was no traffic to obstruct, the group of people was relatively small, and the people didn’t present a danger to themselves or the community. While this wasn’t technically “jaywalking”, the crime was simply being in the street, so the police enforced the law which stopped the protest. Thankfully there were no serious injuries in this case.
For those who follow this blog, you know that this topic has been covered extensively, describing jaywalking as “fake” here, explaining the weaponization of jaywalking here, why it’s a crime here, and the history of jaywalking here.
The subject never gets old – partly because it’s origin surprises everyone who learns about it, and critically because jaywalking been used in the extreme to target Black people (mostly men and boys) who are unjustifiably arrested and killed.
This ProPublica story, “Walking While Black”, was presented at an event in 2017 by Charles Brown at Rutgers University, which I was fortunate to attend. The study reveals the numbers which attest to the outrageous percentages of Blacks being stopped for “jaywalking” in Jacksonville, Florida. These statistics are not unusual in cities all over the US.
It’s time to get rid of jaywalking laws everywhere and create streets for people, rather than for prioritization of automotive traffic. It’s time to reallocate police responsibilities, to examine and restructure traffic enforcement by police, and for a complete reevaluation of policing culture.
9 Reasons to Eliminate Jaywalking Laws Now
They’ve rarely protected pedestrians, and their enforcement is racially biased. Two street safety experts say there are better ways to curb traffic violence.
Angie Schmitt and Charles T. Brown
1. Jaywalking is a made-up thing by auto companies to deflect blame when drivers hit pedestrians.
Although jaywalking is foundational to the way we think about streets and access today, it is a relatively young concept. As University of Virginia historian Peter Norton explains in his book Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City, the notion of “jaywalking” — “jay” being an early 20th century term for someone stupid or unsophisticated — was introduced by a group of auto industry-aligned groups in the 1930s. Prior to the emergence of cars in cities, no such concept existed; pedestrians had free rein in public right-of-ways. But as city streets became sites of increasing carnage in the early days of America’s auto era — about 200,000 Americans (many of them children) were killed by cars in the 1920s — automakers sought regulations that would shift blame away from drivers.