This article is available also in spanish here

How smart cities are preventing ‘jaywalking’

My list

Author | Lucía Burbano

One of the key aspects of urban mobility is the coexistence of pedestrians and motorized vehicles. More than a century ago, cars as we know them today, were a minority compared with the number of pedestrians in cities. Today, however, billions of these vehicles are on the roads around the world.

When we refer to mobility and infringements, we tend to think about those committed by drivers, not by pedestrians. The latter, however, are also to blame, particularly those who practice jaywalking.

What is jaywalking?

Jaywalking could be described as carelessly crossing a roadway or doing so other than at a suitable crossing point that is even dangerous for pedestrians instead of doing so on a crosswalk designed for such use.

This concept does not exist in every country or jurisdiction. There is a common treaty, the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, which standardizes the road sign system used internationally. However, each country may or may not include certain terms and establish sentences if these terms are breached, such as the case jaywalking.

In countries such as Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan, Singapore or Poland, regulations do include them and they are expressed as infringements by the pedestrian with the corresponding fines. Other nations do not specify the term jaywalking but they do establish the prohibition to cross or walk along roads such as highways or expressways, where vehicles travel at high speeds.

Why jaywalking is illegal

Basically, for road safety reasons, for both pedestrians and vehicles. In Singapore, if a pedestrian reoffends, they may receive a three-month prison sentence, although this rarely occurs.

In the United States, about 60% of pedestrian fatalities occur when crossing roads at points where they are not allowed to. This normally happens because the person in question chooses the most direct option to cross from one sidewalk to the other, and very often they do not use the pedestrian crossing as they are located a few meters away. Sometimes these accesses are blocked by parked vehicles, forcing pedestrians to cross the road at more dangerous points.

Therefore, planning mobility, transport infrastructures and the rights and obligations of pedestrians and public and private vehicles, is essential in order to ensure the safe coexistence of pedestrians and vehicles in cities.

Origin and history of jaywalking

jaywalking 2

The emergence of motor vehicles saw the creation of a new regulatory framework to establish this coexistence between these vehicles, horse-drawn carriages and pedestrians. The first known reference to jaywalking was in the United States in 1905, to refer o vehicles that did not circulate on the correct side of the road, and which were referred to as 'jaydrivers'.

The reference to pedestrians and the term 'jaywalker' came about some years later, in 1909, when The Chanute Daily Tribune, form the state of Kansas, published an article warning citizens that they had to pay attention when crossing roads, since they were starting to 'bother' the traffic.

As time went by, and with more vehicles in our cities, this expression changed from being a bothersome act to an illegal act.

Solving jaywalking with technology

jaywalking 3

There are an estimated 12 million pedestrian road traffic injuries each year. The first incident recorded was that of the pedestrian Mary Driscoll in London in 1896, which sparked the debate about how to ensure safe mobility, and which is still the subject of debate today.

More than one century later, many cities are turning to different technologies in search of solutions.

Facial recognition with Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In 2018, the Chinese city of Shenzhen launched a surveillance system loaded with facial recognition and AI to identify offenders. The controversy, however, arose when the city decided to display their faces on the screens installed on the crossings of its main avenues, as if they were criminals.

Surveillance systems and big data

Other solutions seek to understand the cause of the problem in order to improve urban mobility and increasepedestriansafety. Using cameras and other data such as the location of the pedestrian crossings, where pedestrians who cross the road come from or the actual traffic itself, allows the management of the road infrastructure and traffic to be substantially improved.

Self-driving vehicles

Although they are still in the testing phase, the theory claims that self-driving cars are more careful on the roads than most drivers, and are able to perceive whether a human is crossing in front of the vehicle and brake in order to avoid a potential collision.

Photos | Unsplash/Tungsten Rising, Wikipedia/Isadore Posoff, Unsplash/Michał Parzuchowski

Related Content

Recommended profiles for you

Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
Georgeta Oprea
Toyota Motor Europe
Giuliana Armellini
Giuliana Armellini
Research assistant at DLR. Micro-Simulations and modelling of On-Demand-Mobility and Public Transit.
Giulia Belloni
University of Oxford
Researcher in digital mapping
Ganeshpandy Chandrabose
Ganeshpandy Chandrabose
Additional Dy.General Manager
Sandra Ripoll
Sandra Ripoll
Fira barcelona
Mwc director in fira barcelona
Monika Zimmermann
Monika B Zimmermann
Tushar Pal
Protonshub Technologies
xavier sas capdevila
Ignasi Clotet
engineer of sales
Jhony Celso Yapuchura Casavilca
Asistente técnico
Alicia Coca
Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya
Head of business technologies
michel julien
michel julien
Industry Banker Transport
Jan von Lehmann
Wächter & Wächter PR & Event GmbH
Ministry for infrastrucutre
Yuliana Ramirez
Julius Baer
Daniel Rivera
Daniel Rivera
State of Baja California Government
Competitiveness Director
Colin Lumsden
Town Manager/Ministry of Commerce Planning & Infrastructure
Town Manager/Revitalisation Initiative Coordinator
Yudi Herdiana
Universitas Bale Bandung
Paulo Paz
PhD student
Frederic COLLIN
Frederic COLLIN
GPS Genie Pro Solutions
Business owner
Barak Zimerman
REEF Technology
Managing Director of UK&EU

Thank you for registering to Tomorrow.City. You can now start exploring from your computer, or with your phone or tablet downloading our app!
Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$