KPLU wonders why Seattleites don’t jaywalk

KPLU looks at Seattle’s notorious aversion to jaywalking.

In 1978 it was one the first things Patrick Fitzsimons notice when he came to interview for the police chief job. Seattle Police officer John Abraham says the story has become stuff of legend.

“Chief Patrick Fitzsimons and his wife were in a hotel in Belltown and Fitzsimons is looking out the window and he calls his wife over, ‘Ogla you gotta see this! It’s pouring rain. It’s Sunday morning, and they are waiting for the light to cross. We are staying here.’”

KPLU looks at why that is the case and suggests that the Seattle Police have a part in maintaining the non-jaywalking culture here.

As long as it’s the law, police officer Abraham says citing jaywalkers will continue to be a top priority.

“Jaywalking can cost your life; smoking marijuana can just give you a buzz. So, I’ll be after a jaywalker rather than someone with a joint. Unless that person starts to jaywalk, then they’ll really be in trouble.”

KPLU links to the current petition to make jaywalking legal unless it impedes motor vehicle traffic and also provides some advice:

  • Jaywalk in the middle of a block. It’s safer because you have a clear view and there are no cars nearby making turns into the intersection.
  • If you get caught, don’t cop an attitude with the police officer and don’t give them any excuses such as being late or “just grabbing a coffee”. They’ve heard it all. Apologize and move on.
  • You can take your ticket to the city’s magistrate office, where they will probably offer to cut the fine in half.
  • Don’t bother trying to take it to trial. You will likely lose and it will be a big waste of time and resources for all parties involved.
  • The new crosswalks with the count-down timers can be confusing. You are technically jaywalking if you enter the intersection after the walk signal is gone and the numbers start ticking down.

1 Response to “KPLU wonders why Seattleites don’t jaywalk”

  • Sometime after 1967 when I first arrived in Seattle, there was an article in the Times about how jaywalking would “cost” anyone doing it. I saw a policeman ticket a person downtown and it made a believer out of me. I know that it is very dangerous to jaywalk and I have no extra money to give the city for taking the risk. So I never do it and always assume, just as with folks who blow their horns, that anyone I see jaywalking is “from out of town.” Blowing horns and jaywalking is not our culture which I like a lot!

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