Car-free New Yorkers have plenty to worry about these days, what with their crazy notions of personal safety under attack from seemingly all sides. But police in Woodbridge, Virginia are upping the ante by ticketing pedestrians hit by drivers. Via Grist and TBD, photographer Jay Mallin tells the tale: two men, hit on the same day on the same road, both airlifted to the hospital, both cited for “careless interference with traffic.”
This story should be shocking, but it stands to reason that in an environment designed almost exclusively for driving, those outside the main will at best be disrespected or, more likely, treated with contempt. Former Streetsblog Network editor Sarah Goodyear, who wrote about the Mallin video for Grist, recently summed up Tom Vanderbilt’s theories on the topic of cyclists as the hated “other.” The same prejudices, of course, are directed at those on foot. “You can’t cross the street anywhere you want,” said Officer Jonathan L. Perok, spokesman for Prince William County Police. Regardless of whether the nearest crosswalk is anywhere in sight, or if the walk signal button works, or if you are elderly or physically disabled or can’t afford a car.
Mallin also quotes Vanderbilt, who says that to the average traffic engineer, pedestrians are like “little bits of irritating sand gumming up the works.” With this mindset as a given among figures of authority, to be ticketed for “jaywalking” while laid up in a hospital bed is not nearly as surprising as it is unjust.
In fact, the cynical among us might rightly point out that if the two men in Woodbridge had died from their injuries, it would have saved the cops the trouble of issuing any tickets at all.