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NYC takes aim at jaywalking

NYPD Aggressively Issuing Jaywalking Tickets to Stop Fatalities

NEW YORK (AP) - For many New Yorkers, crossing the street in the middle of the block or against the light is a way of life, part of an attitude that tells everybody, "I'm walkin' here!"

"Of course I jaywalk!" says 70-year-old Peter Standish, a retired corporate attorney and lifelong New Yorker, adding that he occasionally texts, reads and even does crossword puzzles while crossing. "I do look up often," he noted.

But with 12 pedestrians deaths so far this year, new Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking aim at that defiant attitude with steps that include increased awareness of the dangers and, in some places, a crackdown on an offense that has been long ignored. Police are actually handing out tickets to jaywalkers.

"We need to be sensitive to the fact that we do have a way of life, and many of us who've been here know that," de Blasio said. "But we have to educate people to the dangers. There's a lot more vehicles in this town than there used to be."

A total of 172 pedestrians were killed in traffic last year in New York City, according to preliminary figures. While such deaths have declined by more than a quarter since 2001, de Blasio says there are persistently too many, and he wants to attack them in the same way the city reduced murders to a record low of 333 last year.

The recent dozen deaths (police say it is too early to say how many involved jaywalking) have included a 9-year-old boy hit by a taxi as he walked across a street with his father, a young doctor clipped by an ambulance when she crossed in front of her apartment building, and a 73-year-old man hit by a tour bus.

At the Upper West Side intersection of Broadway and 96th Street, near where three of the deaths occurred, a newly installed electronic sign warns pedestrians to "USE CROSSWALK" while police with a bullhorn make the same announcement. On a recent weekday morning, one officer directed traffic while others wrote tickets to both drivers and pedestrians - from $40 to $100 - depending on the violation.

The effort took a public relations hit last week when an 84-year-old man ended up bloodied after police tried to ticket him for jaywalking along Broadway.

Kang Wong has filed notice he intends to sue the police and the city for $5 million, alleging officers pushed him against a wall, beat him and threw him to the ground, knocking him out and causing injuries to his head, his face, an elbow and his ribs. Wong, who speaks only limited English, contends officers roughed him up after he asked for his ID back in Chinese and made a hand gesture.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said witnesses gave the impression Wong was hurt in a fall, not as a result of excessive police force.

Some neighborhood activists have complained that the focus on jaywalking is too abrupt, especially since police issued only 630 jaywalking tickets last year - not even two a day in a city of 8 million people and more than 6,000 miles of streets.

"To go from no enforcement to this aggressive action is overkill," said Mark Levine, an Upper West Side member of the City Council.

Mayoral spokesman Wiley Norvell said it was the neighborhood police precinct's decision to respond to the recent deaths with tickets. In the rest of the city, police, transportation and health officials are working to prevent deaths through educational efforts, including distributing fliers warning people to look when they cross.

In addition, the mayor wants police to take a harder line against speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians. He also wants speed cameras installed at the most dangerous spots - an action that requires state approval. And traffic lights could change more quickly in places where pedestrians get impatient and just walk.

Kenneth T. Jackson, a Columbia University history professor who is an authority on New York and often gives walking tours of the metropolis, said that because of its vast public transportation system, scarcity of parking and overall density, the city lends itself to walking - and jaywalking.

"It's harder to not jaywalk in New York because there are so many streets," he said, noting that with 20 blocks to every mile, waiting to cross at every light would be impractical, especially for long schleps. "I don't know anyone who doesn't jaywalk in New York."

At the Crossroads of the World, as Times Square is known, the jaywalking is brazen. Several mothers pushing strollers zigzagged through slow-moving traffic Wednesday, ignoring a "Don't Walk" light. A police cruiser slowed down to allow a horde of jaywalkers to pass.

"I don't care! As long as no car is coming, I go," said Made Nury, a cruise ship steward from Indonesia.

Farther uptown, Tizli Abdelazez, a vendor who sells hats and scarves at 96th and Broadway, needs no lessons after watching vehicles careen around that corner.

"I wait because I'm scared," the Moroccan immigrant said in his native French. "The cars go so fast here, especially taxis. And so many people rush on."

Good luck changing New York's urban habits.

"What New Yorker hasn't jaywalked?" Levine asked. "But I've caught myself this past week - and I'm waiting for the walk sign."

Standish agreed it's a good idea to curb jaywalking. He added with a sly smile: "At 70, I really should stop playing in traffic."

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zoyazk January 29 2014 at 7:44 AM

I live in this neighborhood. Besides curbing the j-walking, the real problem at this cross walk is cars going through the red light, not stopping at the meridian. They ignore that pedestrians are crossing with the light at the cross walk and rush over a hill through the red light. None of the police activity in this area has been to curb that. Put up a traffic camera and catch these bums!

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bystd January 29 2014 at 5:17 AM

People of NY are ruded & cuded. I live in Chicago and you do not see jaywalking on Michigan Ave or State St.

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amacnyc January 29 2014 at 12:47 AM

No, no, no. I feel for the jaywalkers, but I'd bet a billion bucks this has more to do with text-walkers and/or text-drivers---AND THIS GOES FOR EVERYONE I KNOW THAT THINKS IT'S OK TO TEXT AND DRIVE: F-ING STOP IT!!! Imagine texting during your driver's test. Yeah... Do you think you would even have a driver's license??? Stop forcing your friends to be back-seat drivers!!! And as for text-walkers... I've lost count of how many of you have bumped into me walking down the street, how many of you I've seen walk into the street without looking, how many of you I've seen almost get killed by cars without even realizing it... I saved a text-walker's life once and I've seen a few others saved by people who were NOT texting. As for jaywalkers, MAKE SURE YOU MAKE EYE CONTACT/ARE AWARE OF THE CARS THAT HAVE A TRAJECTORY THAT MIGHT BE A THREAT TO YOU!!! You have to walk defensively more so than ever these days. You can't rely on drivers to be aware of you the way they used to anymore! They could be texting instead of watching the road!

I guarantee you texting is a bigger factor in pedestrian deaths than jaywalking will ever be, motorist and pedestrian-wise.

-Concerned Jaywalker

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1 reply to amacnyc's comment
mac102751 January 29 2014 at 6:10 AM

Streets are made for vehicles and paid for for the most part by those who own them. Jay walking is illegal you all deserve tickets

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tazgadon January 29 2014 at 12:25 AM

Catch 22? Almost or (get killed) Jaywalking in New York or Almost (get killed) FOR Jaywalking in New York.

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davidk5555 January 29 2014 at 12:08 AM

OK, lots of traffic, lots of people.....but going after jaywalkers? What about all the murders in NYC within the same period? Look Mayor, spend the time, assets and resources and go after the killers and leave the PEDS alone.

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jenks96263 January 28 2014 at 11:52 PM

Most people are under the misguided impression that the pedestrian always have the right of way...they do when they are in a crosswalk otherwise they jaywalking.

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SRJimVal2 January 28 2014 at 11:22 PM

What happened to the pedestrian always has the right of way? Guess that's old school, so it's ok to run someone over, if you're not old school?? It's dominoes instead of keeping your distance now. That's the New World Order Rule?

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caelcyndar5 January 28 2014 at 11:10 PM

It's not the deaths that's causing them to ticket jaywalkers, it's just the people in authority are using that as an excuse so they can get more money out of people. Plain and simple.

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mawpaker January 28 2014 at 11:10 PM

In addition to the pedestrains j-walking, the taxi drivers in NYC these days are among the WORST drivers in the world. Okay, at least in NY. Being in autobody repair we deal with the ramifications of these careless drivers on a daily basis. For one thing, they keep us in business, but they also KILL people with their horrific driving habbits. Rules of the road, and pedestrian right of way, these drivers ..just do not get it. You take your life in your hands even in a cross walk these days. Put the cell phones away and look around. No one is watching out for you.

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2 replies to mawpaker's comment
olympictorchrun4 January 29 2014 at 12:08 AM

. . . where are the taxi drivers coming from? India, Pakistan . . . what do you expect?

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SAND REBLE ! January 29 2014 at 12:35 AM

worst no theyre here in utah

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Vimala Nowlis January 28 2014 at 10:59 PM

With the NYC traffic, you have to jaywalk to cross the streets sometimes. However, you can't just ignore the traffic. That's suicidal.
To do it properly, you must learn how Chinese cross the streets among heavy traffic. You stare at each driver in the eyes and engage them to make sure they see you before walking in front of their cars one at a time.

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