Thanks to Dan for responding to a recent letter to the editor to clarify a common misconception about "jaywalking".
Clarification on jaywalking
I’d like to clarify a common misconception that appeared in a recent letter to the editor (March 23, Jaywalking growing, Olivia Nowak and Paige Schneider). Jaywalking is a slang term coined by the auto industry in its early days as a way to combat the push-back from the general public as noisy, dirty, and dangerous vehicles (and drivers) began changing the long established use of public rights-of-way. In order to make it appear that roads were only meant for motor vehicles, the promoters launched a campaign to equate non-motorists to dumb country folk (i.e. “Jays”). The belittling term has endured, thus the presumption that pedestrians are trespassers on our own streets continues to this day.
A pedestrian may legally cross the road outside of a crosswalk so long as doing so does not impede traffic (FSS 316.130(10)). One exception is when nearby adjacent intersections have pedestrian signals, a rarity here. The reason crosswalks aren’t always used is more about motorists’ noncompliance at those locations and pedestrian self-preservation than anything else.
Finally, crosswalks exist at every intersection even if unmarked (FSS 316.003(6)(a)), a fact universally ignored by drivers and even most law enforcement.
- Dan Moser, Fort Myers