In Defense of Jaywalking in Boston

Once again, the anti-jaywalking forces have been making a lot of noise about the dangers of jaywalking in Boston. According to alleged scientific evidence, more pedestrians are hurt walking in the notoriously jaywalking-friendly city of Boston than in any other city in the country.

I, for one, am virulently opposed to any new efforts to end jaywalking in Boston. Jaywalking is one of our most precious cultural treasures and we need to stand up against these anti-jaywalking jihadists and Keep Boston Walking!™ (potential name for our new pro-jaywalking campaign.)

Let us recall that it wasn’t too many years ago that Mayor Menino and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler teamed up to teach Bostonians how to “Walk This Way” with a clever, pun-free campaign of signs and street paint instructing people how and when to cross the street. Naturally, the campaign was ignored and promptly failed (presumably causing Tyler to start doing drugs and record bad albums again – a sad, but potentially true story,) but it looks like they might be gearing up for another attempt to ban jaywalking.

Look, it’s important that we preserve jaywalking in order to retain our distinct regional character. Corporate radio and chain stores have turned Everytown, USA into Anytown, USA. Newbury Street and Harvard Square aren’t even special anymore. Lime Rickeys are increasingly hard to come by. Flagrant jaywalking is a beautiful, uniquely Boston thing – let’s keep it that way.

One time I was in Salt Lake City and I got stuck on a street corner where there was no traffic in any direction as far as the eye could see. I was forewarned not to jaywalk because cops will ticket you in SLC for jaywalking. So I stood there like a schmuck for the longest time ever (at least 2 minutes) waiting for the light to change. Do you know how that made me feel? Mad, sad and hot. (It’s really hot in Utah in the summer.)

The big argument against jaywalking is that people can get hurt. Well, duh, of course you can, that’s part of the fun. Frogger didn’t become the most popular video game of 1981 for nothing, you know.

Can we be honest? Bad jaywalkers kind of deserve to get hit. The people that get clipped jaywalking are the people that are too busy playing with their stupid phones to notice the cars. Isn’t getting hit by a car penalty enough for jaywalking? Now you’re going to get a ticket, too?  Yeesh.  (Where are the tea-baggers when you need them?)

True story: when I lived in Beacon Hill a cop once yelled at me for not jaywalking across Cambridge Street. There was construction going on and me standing there was a bigger public safety risk than me jaywalking. In that instance jaywalking probably saved a life. Think about that for a minute.

Boston is a special place and part of our specialness is our still extant spirit of independence. Just because The Man installs a bunch of paint and lights doesn’t mean he can tell me where or when to walk.

Walk this way, Mayor Menino?

Dream On.

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