There was a big to-do the other week when, out of the blue, the city started implementing a new jaywalking policy in front of the school’s main gate. Being Pinoys – and Batangueños, for that matter – there were those who respectfully crossed the road just a few paces from where traffic management personnel could accost them; and those who did so daringly in front of them, anyway.
The pedestrian lane? Why bother? It is a hundred meters to the west of the gate and such, such a long way to walk! And so people – contrary that they tend to be – jaywalked, anyway, in defiance of – at least, the traffic management people said – a city ordinance against jaywalking that they were simply implementing…
In the early nineties, one of my players was killed trying to cross that very same stretch of road in front of school where jaywalking has become such a source of debate these days. Any city ordinance against jaywalking I will, naturally, support. However...
Corollary to any law – or ordinance, for that matter – is an information dissemination campaign that such a law – or ordinance – even exists. How can a citizen be accused of anything government failed to tell him about? Small wonder people were defiant that first day of implementation!
The purpose – or so I would like to think – of pedestrian lanes and anti-jaywalking ordinances will have to be to protect both the pedestrians and the motorists. Therefore, if the city is willing to protect motorists by implementing an anti-jaywalking ordinance, it must also strive to protect pedestrians by forcing vehicles to stop when pedestrians are on the lanes. It goes without saying that motorists do not necessarily do so.
I understand from a colleague that the city council has voted to have a pedestrian lane painted right in front of the school’s main gates. That is well and good; now I hope that if the city can out of the blue decide to implement an anti-jaywalking ordinance, it will also be decisive in trying to protect pedestrians while they are on the lanes.
When I was in the Bay Area in California a decade ago, like any self-respecting Pinoy my companion and I attempted to cross a road despite a “Don't Walk” sign because the road – or at least, as it seemed to us at the moment – seemed totally deserted. From out of the corner came streaking a car with teenagers inside and – because we had stepped on the pedestrian lane – the car came to a full and immediate stop. Despite the “Don't Walk” sign, the young driver instinctively waved us through.
It’s a Pinoy thing, I believe. It’s the magtitinapay mentality. People seldom use it because they are just too lazy to walk the hundred meters to the gate. Walking is healthy, by the way…
I can argue that the new pedestrian lane – when it is done – condones citizens’ aversion to walking. That said, it is their right and choice if they wish to acquire cardio-vascular diseases early in their lives!
At the end of the day, the interests of both motorists and pedestrians will have to be attended to without overly compromising the interests of one party over the other. But then again, that is what politics in a democracy is supposed to be all about, is it not?
For the record, that much-maligned overpass just to the east of the Hall of Lasallian Saints – which although people will never admit it is safer than any pedestrian lane – was something the school actually asked for. But that is another story altogether...
No Bomb; and No Threat