More On The "Criminalization of Walking" and Death By Design


Georgia rules of the road: Every intersection is a crosswalk

Treehugger covered the story of the Mom convicted of Vehicular Homicide After Kid Killed By Hit-and-Run While Crossing Street and about how the neighbourhood had a walkscore of 20. Over at Grist, Sarah Goodyear writes a wonderfully passionate post: When design kills: The criminalization of walking She asks all the important questions:

So why don't we design streets for the reality of human needs and behavior?
Why is there so little interest in making it possible for humans to cross in the places where we know that they are going to cross?
Why does the Congress want to take money away from pedestrian facilities?
Why is normal, instinctive pedestrian activity criminalized?
Why do we care so little about people like Raquel Nelson and her children?
Why do we care so little about ourselves?

At the Infrastructurist, Eric Jaffe decribes The Lonesome Death of a Child Pedestrian:

In the initial aftermath of the accident some of the public tried to portray Nelson as a negligent parent. An article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from last year shows that's not at all the case. Nelson and her children were part of a group of bus riders trying to cross the highway. After crossing halfway the passengers collected at the median to wait for another chance to walk. Just then one girl darted from the group toward the other side, and Nelson's son, seeing this, ran after her. The paper quotes Nelson on what happened next: "I said, 'Stop, A.J.,' and he was in the middle of the street so I said keep going. That's when we all got hit."

Erik Cain of Forbes thinks the whole thing is a travesty of justice.

this reveals just how broadly laws can be interpreted if prosecutors want to push the case. It would have been simple enough to view what happened, take into account the fact that complaints had been made about the intersection, that the driver was high, and so forth and decide to just let the case go. Or fine the mother for jaywalking. Or put in a crosswalk.

Instead the state spends countless dollars intensifying a tragedy. This isn't justice. And the intersection remains a danger to the community.

In a subsequent article, Cain suggests that Raquel Nelson didn't even break the law. The rules, photo at top, say "Crosswalks exist on all four corners of intersections even when they are not marked by painted lines."

I'm not sure if this even came up during Nelson's trial, but it strikes me as very relevant to the case. If Georgia law stipulates that every intersection is a crosswalk "even when they are not marked by painted lines" then Nelson could not have been legally jaywalking to begin with. Without the jaywalking charge, I fail to see how she could be guilty of anything else, and the entire case falls apart.

I often say that everything is essentially about design, and in this particular case, design kills.

Tags: Urban Life | Urban Planning