Investigating the fine line of legality in the SF Bay Area

Jaywalking: Empowering Americans One Step At A Time

July 4, 2015

“We should use the crosswalk,” said no one ever. The culture of jaywalking has been prevalent throughout society since the creation of crosswalks, before which it was simply called ‘walking.’ Yes, I do it. And yes, you do it too. But even though it’s illegal, we shouldn’t feel guilty when we jaywalk; rather, we should embrace it in its entirety.

Let’s take a look at the facts. Although jaywalking on non-intersecting roads is illegal in California, those who have actually been punished are few and far between. In fact, jaywalking probably wouldn’t have been illegal at all in the U.S. if it weren’t for a propaganda scheme in the 1920s. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), car firms started blaming jaywalking for car accidents in 1924 in reaction to a petition that aimed to limit the speed of cars to 25 mph. Car lobby groups started controlling school safety education, emphasizing that roads were for cars, not children. Boy scout troops handed out cards portraying jaywalking as dangerous and old-fashioned. This idea circulated and still resonates with Americans today, despite the fact that Britain permits jaywalking and has half the amount of pedestrian deaths.

Yet for its failure to protect civilian lives, banning jaywalking has one benefit: it is the key to badassness (a wimpy form of badassness, might I say, but a form nonetheless). For the obedient schoolgirl or soft-spoken office worker, jaywalking provides a temporary escape from their compliant ways and allows them to exert their hidden rebellious spirit. It is a form of self-expression, allowing you to defy authority in a tangible way with a safety net almost always ensured. In a society of generally law-abiding citizens, there is bound to be a breaking point, and jaywalking, whether clumsily or gracefully done, provides an outlet to ease the tension of constant obedience. Its ubiquitousness characterizes the streets of Stanford University and symbolizes our independent spirit (like the true ‘Muricans we are). It may cause traffic interruptions, lead to several heart palpitations, and stir up heated psychopathic exchanges between walker and driver, but jaywalking is here (and here to stay) for the betterment of our society.


Case in point.

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