In most places, walking, the fundamental process of mobility for humans, is an indispensable activity, on par with breathing. In Los Angeles it is a crime, with an associated $200 fine.
It is not quite "Dragnet," but the Police Department in recent weeks has issued dozens of tickets to workers, shoppers and tourists for illegally crossing the street in downtown Los Angeles. And the crackdown is raising questions about whether the authorities are taking sides with the long-dominant automobile here at the very time when a pedestrian culture is taking off, fueled by the burst of new offices, condominiums, hotels and restaurants rising in downtown Los Angeles. [...]
The police say they are simply trying to maintain order at a time when downtown Los Angeles, once a place of urban tumbleweeds and the homeless, is teeming with people competing for pavement with automobiles. "There's a huge influx of folks that come into the downtown area," said Sgt. Larry Delgado of the Central Traffic Division. "If you go out there, you are going to see enforcement."
(Let's note that the LAPD is most likely the largest single institutional owner of automobiles in the city, and its employees among the city's most frequent and common drivers.)
"Maintain order," obviously, who can blame them. But... whose? "People competing for pavement with automobiles" is about right. One side there are people; on the other side there are cars. That people are sometimes inside the cars barely matters; the fundamental organizing principle for the city is still the car, and the minute a human steps outside of one and walks she is now a threat to the car order.
But: Gotta hear both sides. "There is an issue of people walking across the street with little consideration of the fact that there are cars," Blair Besten, executive director of Historic Downtown Los Angeles Business Improvement District, tells the Times. In the sense that they are putting themselves in danger? Well: "[T]hey clearly walk out in the middle of the countdown and take their time to cross the street." Ah: The LAPD needs to hand out $200 fines because there are people who are not considerate toward the cars. Fuck that. Ban cars.
[images via AP]