Jaywalking law in Australia

It's ten PM, you've just walked across the Victoria Bridge from South Bank and you need to get to the damn railway station. The pedestrian light has infuriatingly turned red to let a single taxi through, but there's no other cars on the road.

Whatever, the coast is clear, you duck across at the red and BAM! Law broken, and a $40 fine.

The last few days police have been handing out tickets to people who outrageously dare to cross the road in a manner not approved by the state. Even when there aren't cars around and it's perfectly safe, our little "jaywalking" prohibition still makes it illegal to cross at or near a crossing before the signals have changed.

It's rubbish, and it's difficult to understand why people would be in favour of such a strange law.

But what if you die?

3 Jaguars and pedestrians 2 of 2 by brewbooks

An argument a lot of people use is that this law stops people getting killed.

"What if you get hit by a car?" they cry, to which I would reply that firstly the motorist is at fault for running into the pedestrian, and secondly do you think I'm some kind of an idiot?

Is the only thing stopping me from walking in front of a car the threat of a fine? Apparently.

Australians have a frustrating tendency to trot out the "safety & security" scare line when it comes to justifying dumb laws, and this is no different.

That a single law is the only thing preventing pedestrians falling into traffic like lemmings off a cliff is absurd and quite honestly insulting to those of us capable of forming independent thought.

It's inconveniencing my driving.

No it's not. And furthermore, shut up. You're the one causing congestion in the first place, and you've made my bus late.

If you feel you're entitled to drive through a highly populated pedestrian area and further feel inconvenienced when you have to wait for people to cross the road, you should consider the problem might just lay with you.

For some archaic reason city centres in Australia are still geared for motor traffic where pedestrians are by far the majority. An article was published just this morning in the local rag decrying the lack of funding for pedestrians and pedestrian spaces, with a choice quote from the Pedestrian Council of Australia:

“We used to design cities for people, now we design cities for cars.”

We claim to be responsible, sustainable, low fat, carbon monogamous and yet we run roads straight through major pedestrian thoroughfares and then fine people for crossing them the wrong way. It's absolutely nuts.

Jaywalk Away

If you're actually concerned about road casualties and want to do something positive you'd campaign to reduce the speed limit further or even remove cars from busy areas of the CBD altogether. Queen Street Mall is a great example of this principle in action, but it's still an island in the middle of a motorist's paradise.

It's important to remember that laws aren't the same as morals, they can be wrong, and more importantly they can be changed. The only perspective our jaywalking law actually makes sense from is the motorist's, too selfish and ignorant to care about anything beyond the windshield.

Queen Street Mall, by Brisbane City Council