Banning Cellphones, Etc. From Crosswalks Is Absurd
State Senator Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) announced last week that he intends to introduce legislation that would fine pedestrians and bicyclists if they use their MP3 players, cell phones or other devices while crossing city streets. Anyone found crossing the street while using an electronic device would be issued a summons carrying a $100 penalty.
We've banned indoor smoking throughout most of the city. We've eliminated trans fat from most restaurant foods; some manufacturers of shortening sold for both domestic and commercial use have announced that the substances will be eliminated from their products as well. We've enacted laws that summons anyone using a cellphone while driving or not wearing a seatbelt in a moving vehicle. While most of the banned items or practices are definitely harmful, and we're better off for doing without them, the idea that a police officer is to be stationed at a crosswalk to ensure that everyone about to cross a street has switched off or disconnected their cellphone, Blackberry, iPod or MP3 player is completely impractical and patently ridiculous.
We can think of a number of laws that have improved public safety, no matter how unpopular they were when they were first introduced. Kruger's bill is not one of them. Anyone crossing a street at the signal should be able to continue a phone conversation or text messaging or listen to a musical selection without interference from law enforcement--already fully occupied with keeping the peace and enforcing exising laws. It is plainly the responsibility of this city's drivers to obey traffic signals when the light is against them. As for pedestrians who jaywalk, the risks attendant upon the practice are obvious and, as far as we can see, the responsibility of the individual. Adults do not need the city of New York to serve as their nanny when crossing a street. Kruger's legislation is unenforceable and totally lacking in merit.