Wiki Wednesday: The Crosswalk Violator Crackdown

If New York could set up red light cams and speeding cams at its discretion to catch scofflaw motorists, there’s no doubt the city would be a much safer place. When it comes to automated enforcement, however, the state legislature holds many of the cards. Fortunately, there are other techniques available to NYPD to better protect pedestrians — techniques that don’t require Albany’s blessing. One of them is the "Crosswalk Sting," described by Andy Hamilton in this week’s StreetsWiki entry:

crosswalk_infringement.jpgWe’re walkin’ here! Photo courtesy of Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center Image Library, Dan Burden.

A Crosswalk Sting or "pedestrian decoy operation" is an enforcement and
public education action in which plainclothes police officers cross at
marked or unmarked crosswalks, and drivers who fail to yield to them are
given warnings or tickets. An important aspect of the action is
notifying the media ahead of time to ensure good coverage of the
crosswalk sting, providing broader community awareness. Crosswalk
stings have been found to significantly increase yielding by drivers.

Skeptical that this technique would have much of an effect in a big American city? It’s certainly no substitute for automated enforcement, but in Miami, Andy reports, one study documented safer driver behavior in the wake of crosswalk stings:

Extensive anecdotal reports suggest police and residents find that
crosswalk stings increase yielding by motorists to pedestrians in
crosswalks. Very few controlled studies have been performed. A 2004
study of a sting operation in Miami, Florida, found that crosswalk
stings did in fact increase yielding.  Further, the researchers
found, "these increases were sustained for a
period of a year with minimal additional enforcement, and that the
effect generalized to untreated crosswalks… as well as crosswalks with
traffic signals."

How great would it be if an NYPD sergeant tipped off the Shame Shame Shame crew (although maybe Arnold Diaz isn’t the man for the job) and busted some crosswalk violators on New York’s mean streets? That officer would be a hero in my book.

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