A Woman Pushes Her Child into Traffic

While in Seville recently, I watched with horror as numerous people, including a mother pushing a stroller, rushed out into traffic to cross the street.

Jaywalkers near the Seville bus station. The woman with the stroller is literally running.

These people are crossing the street at an intersection, but not in a crosswalk — because none exists at this location. In fact, they’re rushing through a street with heavy bike, bus, and rail traffic. And none of the signals for these other modes of transportation are set up to create gaps for pedestrians.

Light rail on a Seville street with few crosswalks and a lot of jaywalkers.

This picture was taken from more or less the same spot as the pictures above, but turning 90 degrees to the left. The woman with the stroller would have been crossing the street right in front of the bus in the foreground of this picture.

In the picture above, the nearest crosswalk is below the distant green light in the top center.

When people can choose their destinations, long and dangerous streets with inadequate pedestrian routes discourage use. I’ve never visited the bike shop across the street from my office, for example, because it’s either dangerous or absurdly time consuming to get there. This kind of pedestrian discouragement happens up and down Provo’s Freedom Blvd.

But when choice is removed from the equation — the Sevillanos in the pictures above had to get to the city’s bus station, located in the buildings just beyond the train — people will consistently choose to take the shortest, most efficient route.

That happened to the people in this previous post, and then more dramatically to the people in the pictures above. We can fault them for recklessness, but given the world-wide consistency and prevalence of jaywalking on streets like these, it seems like it’d be more effective to start designing roads for people as well as vehicles.

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