Editorial: Pedestrian police not pests, but protectors

Jaywalking. Most of us do it. It’s more convenient than walking all the way to a traffic light, or a crosswalk. It saves time. But it’s also dangerous.

Pedestrian accidents have always been an issue. In 2009, there were 48 traffic fatalities and a streetwalker was involved in 31 of those incidents.

Finally, the Toronto police have had enough. They have decided to crack down on jaywalkers by watching intersections and those who cross them illegally. They implemented a “jaywalking blitz” after another 14 pedestrians were struck and killed in automobile accidents in a two-week period this winter — and they say they’re remaining vigilant into spring.

One of those winter fatalities, a man crossing the street at Broadview and Danforth avenues, was hit and killed by a dump truck.

But is the anti-jaywalking campaign, at its core, just patronizing us? People know the risks, people know what could happen, yet they will always be willing to try to dodge traffic to get from point A to point B a little faster.

“I can’t even cross the street anymore,” one pedestrian told a reporter. “I do it at my own risk; what do they care?” said another.

They’re not alone in thinking that Toronto’s finest should be concentrating more on crime and less on re-teaching us how to use a crosswalk.

But they’re wrong. If one life is saved because of the fear of a ticket, the blitz is working as advertised.

So congratulations to police for once again stepping up. We saw it again with their enforcement just last week, with students out on March break and roaming the streets amid balmy weather. By stressing the importance of this kind of basic safety in our communities, they’re sending an important message — especially to the younger generation. Teaching kids the right habits from a young age, such as looking both ways before crossing the street and making sure they only cross at lights, will keep them out of harm’s way.

Eliminating jaywalking could be very simple. Everybody needs to calm down. With the world moving the way it is, everything has become faster and everyone wants everything right now. There is less and less patience. East Yorkers, like other Torontonians and urban dwellers everywhere, need to slow down, take a breath and take the longer route.