Toronto-Montreal Jaywalking Solidarity
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Toronto-Montreal Jaywalking Solidarity

2006_5_10jaywalking.jpgApparently police in Montreal will now be fining pedestrians who jaywalk, we figure this’ll be like fining Montrealers for smoking. The anti-jaywalking blitz has raised the hackles of one Torontonian, Joe over at the Biking Toronto blog.
It also raises an interesting question is jaywalking a dangerous social habit that the police need to hand out tickets for or is it just a normal part of vibrant city life?
Cyclist Joe argues that cars and their drivers seem to have an overinflated sense of ownership over the city’s roads:

“It is a little-known fact that the only tax that drivers pay that the rest of us don’t is the gas tax, almost all of which goes into highway construction and maintenance (although a small portion of it is now going towards public transit). The streets of Toronto – those ones you walk and bike on every single day, are paid by local property taxes – which come from all of us – directly (owning property) and/or indirectly (supporting landlords and/or buying stuff at businesses who pay property taxes)….Modern road grids were designed for horse travel thousands of years ago by the Romans. They were paved thanks to cycling advocates 100 years ago. They are not for cars. Cars have just taken over.” [his emphasis].

He goes on to throw his support behind the persecuted jaywalkers of Montreal:

If any Montrealers read this page, I’d like to encourage you to jaywalk more. You own the streets as much as drivers do. They try to break the law to get around faster, so why shouldn’t you?
I’ll be doing more here in Toronto in solidarity with you. I’ll go out walking right now and mess car traffic up on my street by crossing mid-block.

Torontoist agrees with Joe in principle but maybe not in execution. Almost every street in this city with a decent pedestrian life (Queen, Spadina, Bloor, College) has some jaywalking. Heck even a former Minister of Defence turned Leader of the Opposition jaywalks, an offence which would’ve cost him a $37 fine in Montreal. But jaywalking is as much about saving time as it is about self-preservation. You probably won’t see us jaywalking across Lakeshore Boulevard or parts of University Avenue. Police in Toronto have flirted with the idea of ticketing jaywalkers but we’ve never actually seen anyone get a ticket and the amount of times Torontoist has jaywalked we thought we would’ve been nailed with a ticket by now.
That being said our friends at DCist know people who have been smacked by the long-arm of the law. And let’s just be grateful we don’t live in Shanghai where the police force is continuing the fine Chinese tradition of ratting out your fellow citizen.