by Neville Kennard, veteran preaching and practising capitalist
In some cultures and countries jaywalking — crossing the street outside of marked crossings or against the traffic lights — is frowned upon, not just by the policing authorities but by the populace. The Germans are notoriously compliant to lights and lanes in their street-crossing culture, and the Japanese too.
In my travels I like to observe the compliance versus the non-compliance, the group-think v. the individual-think, in traffic behaviour and jaywalking in particular. In most places I find about a 50% compliance/non-compliance ratio. It depends on traffic-density, but where it is safe about half the people wait until the light turns or cross only at the crossings. Australians seem to fit this 50% ratio. Some cross only at the official crossings and wait for the green light, even when there is no conflicting traffic or hazard. Others make their own arrangements, crossing when and where it is clear and safe.
In parts of Asia there is very little compliance and crossing the street can be a hazardous adventure to a new-comer. If you didn’t jaywalk in Vietnam or Thailand you would not get across, yet there seems to be an anarchic order and it all works with few casualties. Traffic-watching in these countries is an anarchist’s delight.
There is not much risk or inconvenience in Responsible Jaywalking; these individualists take responsibility for their own safety, and don’t interfere to any noticeable degree on the flow of traffic or the convenience of drivers.
As an advocate of Responsible Jaywalking I see in it a healthy display of Responsible Civil Disobedience, and Respect for Self Ownership.
Are there rules for Responsible Jaywalking?
Well, yes, anarchists can have rules too:
- No threat to your own well-being.
- No disruption, inconvenience or alarm to drivers and traffic.
- Courtesy and good manners.
- Don’t get caught by the revenue-raising Jay-Cops.
I like the words and idea of Henry David Thoreau, the American libertarian and non-conformist of the nineteenth century: he advocated being “a Good Neighbour and a Bad Subject”.
Compliant , subservient subjects make good cannon-fodder, voters, tax-payers and red-tape cripples. The government likes its citizens to be “good subjects”.
Bad subjects in the Jaywalking arena take quiet satisfaction in their responsible civil-disobedience while maintaining the “good neighbour” approach to their fellow road users.
Perhaps next time a “Blitz on Jay Walkers” is proclaimed there can be an up-rising of responsible and courteous jay walkers to confuse and confound the Jay Cops trying to collect revenue. It should not be too hard to confound and out-wit, out-run if necessary, the Jay-Cops; they may then go and get proper and productive jobs.
Maybe a slogan is called for “Jaywalking for Peace and Prosperity”; or “Jaywalkers Do It Joyfully”; or even “Jaywalking for Life and Love”.
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