The simple act of walking is sometimes criminalized in the United States. Anti-jaywalking statutes and ordinances—originally motivated by auto-industry lobbyists in the 1920s—call for fines and, sometimes, imprisonment for crossing the street. Additionally, some localities have interpreted statutes against “child neglect” to encompass a parent’s decision to let their kid walk outside alone. The result of this criminalization? Such policies have reduced pedestrian liberty, increased automobile traffic and pollution, and created a disincentive for physical activity in the midst of an obesity and diabetes epidemic. In addition to discussing these effects, this Article argues that the purported safety benefits of criminalizing walking pale in comparison to those of decriminalization. In the context of currently vague child neglect laws, this Article suggests a bright-line rule that would empower parents’ decision to allow their children to do the unthinkable: walk themselves to school.
Download full article https://illinoislawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Lewyn.pdf [pdf] from *University of* *Illinois Law Review*
A few highlights are provided in another article http://www.placemakers.com/2017/05/16/the-irrational-criminalization-of-walking/(which also includes an interesting personal anecdote):
Lewyn examines all this through the lens of jaywalking laws and child endangerment statutes, pointing out the irrationality inherent in the justifications used to defend both. A few tidbits:
- Where jaywalking is not an offense or in areas where it’s not enforced or enforced with inconsequential penalties, rates of pedestrian deaths are greatly reduced. - Statistically speaking, were a parent intentionally seeking to have their child abducted they would need to leave them outside, unattended, for 500,000 years before it would be likely to happen. - An American child is fifty times more likely to die from a car crash than from an abduction by a stranger.