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Jaywalking In Boston: Who Cares?

Jaywalking In Boston: Who Cares?WBZ

It's not a newsflash to say that walking in front of moving cars can be hazardous to your health. And yet, jaywalking is a favorite pastime in Boston.

Sharlene from Boston posted this on our Curiosity Web site: "I'm curious why Mayor Menino doesn't do something about the pedestrians in Boston. They are constantly stepping out into traffic."

WBZ's David Wade took to the streets to find an answer to that question. He discovered that the fine is ridiculous, and police are doing nothing about the problem, but the mayor is about to change that.

Everywhere David went in the city he saw people ignoring the "do not walk" signals and crossing whenever they want. Call it a crime of convenience.

Jaywalking is crossing the street and not using the crosswalk when it's within 300 feet. It's against the law. But here's the thing: the state fine for jaywalking is one single dollar.

"It's not much of a deterrent," said Capt. John O'Leary of the Brookline Police Department.

We were curious how many jaywalking tickets local police had given out over the past few years. We were surprised to find out it's not 4,000, or 300 or 200 or even one.

It's zero. We checked. Zero tickets in Boston. Zero tickets in Cambridge. Zero tickets in Brookline.

"It's useless. We don't enforce it," says Capt. O'Leary. And everyone seems to know it. But Boston Transportation Commissioner Tom Timlin says it's not a joke.

"Car versus pedestrian, the car is always going to win," he said.

From his City Hall control center he watches the traffic on several cameras, and notices a new breed of jaywalker - the texter, observing a woman casually stroll across the street, against the signal.

"She's texting. It's a don't walk. She has not even looked up," observes Timlin.

So what's the solution? Brookline police say the "buck a booking" is such a joke that the city will soon ask lawmakers for permission to raise the fine.

In Boston, we learned that in January, Mayor Menino will also file legislation asking the state to allow Boston to write a heftier ticket. But until police can talk the talk, the jaywalkers are going to jaywalk the walk.

It's not just pedestrians breaking the rules, the problem cuts both ways. Tracy from Stoneham posted this question on our Curiosity Web site: "I'm curious why drivers don't stop to let pedestrians cross."
Mayor Menino is asking for legislation to take on drivers and bike riders who don't stop for pedestrians.

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