Walk this Way

Pols put you in the Driver's Seat

What's a crime fighter to do after he wipes out most of the crime in the city? Well, he could sit back and rest on his laurels--go around giving speeches about how he single-handedly wiped out crime. OK, OK, say he managed that every day--there would still be 22 hours left in the mayor's schedule with no crime to bust.

That was the dilemma facing Mayor Rudy recently when he took a crime-free moment to ponder his options--probably while driving around in his dark, late-model van. In a flash, it came to him! This is not a crime-free city at all! For years people have been roaming the five boroughs free to--yes!--walk. And walk any damned way they want.

In the beginning there were only jaywalkers. Now, of course, there are those hardened criminal types who actually jump barriers to cross streets that the mayor has declared no-walk zones. It must have really steamed him to realize that, even on his watch, his constituents have had to put up with blatant quality-of-life crimes committed openly by joggers, casual strollers, speed-walkers, slow walkers, handicapped walkers, and who knows who else. Whoever they are, they all stink like six-day-old fish, and it's time the perps were made to pay the price. That would be $100--or about the price of a pair of good sneakers.

The reasoning behind the mayor's plan is twofold. He wants to end gridlock, and he wants to stop people (a/k/a perps) from being run down while running around. In short, it's time that pedestrians get into cabs, buses, and cars, where they belong, and get off the streets. Of course, if all the walkers started to ride, we'd have more traffic, but that's another story altogether.

This is all good. The only problem is that every time you hear about poor pedestrians getting run down by cars, they are usually still on the sidewalk. Or worse--it's a whole family that, while crossing with the light, is killed by an out-of-control car, cab, panel truck, or "dark, late-model van," driven by some loony who's had his license suspended 23 times.

Call me crazy, but I remember knowing, growing up, that if you ever got your license suspended, you were out of luck forever, or at least for a long time. There was no such thing as getting it suspended twice, let alone 23 times.

Anyway, in real life, the problem isn't reckless walkers--it's reckless drivers. I don't want to sound like a bigot, but when was the last time you got into a cab and didn't get whiplash from the driver speeding and slamming on the brakes every two seconds? When was the last time you didn't have to run like hell across an intersection because the driver of the car (cab, late-model van) was in the grip of road rage?

Of course, if Governor Pataki has his way, drivers seized by road rage will also be in big trouble. He's proposing a law under which raging drivers will be thrown into the slammer for up to seven years if they're caught under the influence of anger. Should both the mayor's new proposal and the governor's new law be enacted, traffic problems would be virtually eliminated because there would be no traffic--and no walkers to interfere with it.

While this is all nice and tidy, it is beginning to make me nervous, personally. It all just hits (no pun intended) a little too close to home. Not only am I guilty of criminally negligent jaywalking, but if road rage had a face, it would likely be mine.

I've even had road rage while walking. I've been known to slam my fist down on cabs when the driver honked in my face as I was jaywalking. This is not good for the home team. In our new crime-free world, I could be broke and in prison without ever having experienced the joy of holding up even one lousy convenience store.

 
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