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“The Law is a Ass”

The Star Ledger story:

“N.J. saw fewer deaths on roadways in 2012, but pedestrian fatalities increased”

reports that motorist fatalities in 2012 were down a little from the 2011 number and then goes on to mention:


However, the number of pedestrians killed rose to 165 last year from 143 in 2011, amounting to the most fatalities since 2006, when 167 died.

Cathleen Lewis, director of Public Affairs and Government Relations for AAA of New Jersey, attributed the increase to a combination of factors, including drivers and pedestrians being distracted by electronic devices and a two-and-a-half-year-old law intended to increase pedestrian safety that she said has caused some confusion.

“Unfortunately that’s not surprising,” Lewis said. “There’s plenty of people who walk across the street while texting or emailing on their phones without paying attention at all. That’s just as deadly as that kind of behavior when you’re behind the wheel.”

She said people need to be better educated about the 2010 law requiring drivers to stop rather than yield to pedestrians.

“Part of the problem is that a lot of drivers don’t know about the law,” Lewis said. “A lot of pedestrians who do know about the law use it to step off the curb and start walking.”


Now I don’t necessarily believe that the increase was caused by the new law, rather it’s more likely due to the increased use of distracting electronic devices. But if deaths had declined in the two years since the “stop for pedestrians” law had been enacted, those nannies in Trenton would bleating from every mountaintop about all the lives they had saved.   And since the new law is at best ineffective, and at worst a detriment to pedestrian safety, shouldn’t it be repealed?

I, myself, have seen much confusion stemming from this law.  Cars stop when pedestrians are just standing there with no intention of crossing the street.  Cars stop in the middle of the block where there is no crosswalk.  I’ve seen cars stop when they have a green light and there are pedestrians on the corner waiting for the light to change.  And I’ve seen cars stop for those dopey pedestrian crossing signs even when there are no pedestrians present!  Everyone is driving on eggshells, worried they’re going to make some mistake and get a ticket.

I also witnessed a woman almost get run over because I obeyed the law and stopped for her.  I was going north on Ocean Ave and stopped to let her cross the street to the beach.  The driver behind me must have thought I stopped to turn left even though of course I didn’t have my signal on, and passed me on the right.  He never saw her and she never saw him.  I guess my car blocked their view of each other.  If she had been walking slightly faster she might have gotten killed that day.

Speaking of those “stop for pedestrian” signs in the middle of the street, do they really think we’re so stupid that when we’re driving down Ocean Ave we need to be reminded about their dopey new law at every block?  Those things are an absolute menace to bicyclists when cars have to move to the right every block to avoid hitting the signs with their mirrors.

Of course this stupid government policy wouldn’t be such a hazard for bicyclists if another stupid government policy wasn’t preventing us from building bike lanes either as part of the new boardwalk or alongside the new boardwalk.  Seems the only way to get all the needed approvals to rebuild the beachfront in any reasonable amount of time is to re-do everything on the exact same footprint as what was there before.  And since the old street/boardwalk design put cyclists at great risk of colliding with cars that are backing out of the diagonal parking spots, or with cars that are swinging around the pedestrian crossing signs, then so, too, shall the new one.  It’s the law.

But as the Dickens character Mr Bumble says in Oliver Twist: “the law is a(n) ass, a(n) idiot”.


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