Full Version: How cars took over the roads
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«A hundred years ago, if you were a pedestrian, crossing the street was simple: You walked across it», but «[ i ]n the 1920s, auto groups redefined who owned the city street». Crosswalks, traffic lights, and other pedestrian hindrances, aren't part of «the basic nature of roads». It's «the result of an aggressive, forgotten 1920s campaign led by auto groups and manufacturers that redefined who owned the city streets.» Originally, «it was drivers' job to avoid you, not your job to avoid them», but now it's the other way around. Creating the crime of jaywalking was one of the key events in enabling this shift. It's the shift from streets as a public space, to streets as a vehicle for motor vehicles.

«"Pedestrians were walking in the streets anywhere they wanted, whenever they wanted, usually without looking," Norton says. During the 1910s there were few crosswalks painted on the street, and they were generally ignored by pedestrians.

«As cars began to spread widely during the 1920s, the consequence of this was predictable: death. Over the first few decades of the century, the number of people killed by cars skyrocketed.»

The people killed «were disproportionately the elderly and children, who had previously had free rein to play in the streets.»

And «[ b ]efore formal traffic laws were put in place, judges typically ruled that in any collision, the larger vehicle — that is, the car — was to blame. In most pedestrian deaths, drivers were charged with manslaughter regardless of the circumstances of the accident.»

What followed was the desire for anti-car legislation, which prompted «automakers, dealers, and enthusiast groups worked to legally redefine the street — so that pedestrians, rather than cars, would be restricted.» And that's how it's been ever since.
In England, as far as I know, there is no specific offence such as jaywalking. There is an offence of dangerous driving.

Look forward to the sequel: how the working class reclaimed the streets...