Lileks: Save $120 – and your life – and wait for the walk sign

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 24, 2014 - 2:14 PM

Someone who knows someone I know got a ticket for jaywalking the other day, and like any good columnist I wondered: “Is this a trend?” More to the point, can I inflate it to sound like a trend?

Apparently this intersection was notorious for ticketing the bleep-you amblers and furtive dashers alike, officers swooping up to dispense $120 citations. It’s a hellish mesh of cars, buses, bikes and students who are wandering around thinking, “How am I going to pay for this?”

Soon something new will be added into the mix: electric trains that come out of nowhere, and if you’re strolling out against the light with your headphones on, you may find yourself six blocks down the street, dazed, muttering “this isn’t my stop,” with a conductor standing over you asking whether you know how much paperwork he has to do now. And of course, you have no answer. Lots?

Hence the ticketing to Raise Awareness. It works: Weekly I pass a spot where I was pulled over for speeding in 2007, and I still check my speed. If someday I’m in a box in a hearse and it takes that route, the driver will hear “SLOW DOWN!” from the cargo in the back.

Well, I sat at the intersection for a while, and saw people jaywalk about once every other stoplight cycle. No arrests. Then I realized that if there’s anything an undercover cop might notice, it’s a guy who’s just sitting in his car watching students go by, so I left, thinking, if there’s anything else that would make a cop curious, it’s why that guy suddenly left, and keeps checking the rearview mirror. I was blocks away before my heart rate returned to normal.

Anyway, I have only anecdotal evidence that the police are stepping up jaywalking patrols in advance of the light-rail line, but speaking as someone who still expects to get mushed into human cream when I step over the light-rail tracks with a WALK sign, my advice is take the train. It’s the only way to ensure you won’t be hit by one.

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