alk this way

St. Paul inhabitants should be aware that St. Paul police will no longer tolerate the dubiously serious offense of jaywalking. The two Twin Cities newspapers warned citizens last Saturday that police would issue warnings until today, when they will begin fining jaywalkers $50 in accordance with the new crosswalk law, which became effective Sept. 1. The crackdown, although in the best interest of pedestrian safety, is another example of law enforcement further alienating tourists and residents from St. Paul Police and removing personal responsibility from the citizen’s discretion.
The Minnesota crosswalk law, which clarifies only what pedestrians should instinctively know, states that a pedestrian must not enter a crosswalk if a vehicle is approaching, that drivers must yield to a pedestrian within a crosswalk or any intersection with no marked crosswalk, that drivers must remain stopped until the pedestrian is completely out of the crosswalk and that violators of said regulations are guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to sentencing of up to 90 days in prison or $700 in fines.
St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman is skeptical about the stronger enforcement and its effect on tourism: “I want people downtown and I want them to come back.” Issuing jaywalking tickets to tourists will not aid the “Minnesota nice” warmth that St. Paul officials hope to conjure up in the hearts of visitors. On the contrary, it will only widen the urban gap between police officers and those they serve to protect. Minnesotans still remember Roscoe Van Pelt, who was arrested for jaywalking last spring. During the violent arrest, Pelt claims that a Minneapolis police officer said he was being arrested for having “the gall to be black.” The jaywalking law could be used as another tool to incarcerate suspicious people and facilitate racial profiling.
There is a serious issue of personal responsibility that the Legislature overlooked when it passed the unneccessary bill. The government trusts Minnesotans to smoke and gamble at their own risk, yet citizens cannot be trusted to cross the street at their own discretion.
Some would argue that pedestrian safety is the responsibility of the driver. Adam Granger, a St. Paul resident, argues, “Until thoughtless and unskilled Minnesota drivers are taught not to roll through stop signs, crosswalks will remain treacherous territory for pedestrians.”
Street sense is something innate, which cannot be inculcated through warnings and tickets. Minnesota will retain that “Minnesota nice” image, provided that police do not manage every detail of the Minnesotan’s life, including how to cross the street.