It’s a particularly nasty month for pedestrians (and drivers) in the Greater Toronto Area in January–14 pedestrians hit, 7 of whom have died (this compared to a mere 2 last January). At first, it seemed like just a bad string of luck. After one of the first–a young mother killed by an 80-year-old driver, everyone was up in arms about the age of the driver and that they should not be allowed to drive, but by the 9th hit in 9 days, we realized that something was different this time and a clear-cut blame game wasn’t possible. Are pedestrians being more courageous in their choices of jaywalking or perhaps drivers are more distracted by the million gadgets we have? Maybe the crosswalk lanes aren’t white enough? What if the police aren’t policing those terrible jaywalkers enough!
Wait, today they are. As militaristic as it might sound, police have been standing out at the corner of Victoria and Dundas issuing tickets without warning to people crossing the street at the crosswalks during the no-walking sign. The violation? $35.00. Let’s just set aside the futile nature of giving tickets like this for a second to talk about consistency. Under normal conditions, police could be standing on the corners. You walk across the street when it’s clear. The police pay no attention. But today, that’s not true. So when violators are flagged over by the watching police, they don’t even realize there’s a problem and they almost don’t pay attention to the police. On top of that, getting a ticket for $35.00 suddenly for something you’ve never been penalized for before? Infuriating.
This is just another unfair, knee-jerk reaction to an unfortunate set of circumstances. If you want to change behaviour, educate, don’t punish.