U for USA’s obsession with the car (Five Photos, Five Stories #2)

ChevroletI’m reading my email one insomniac night when I see this Quora question: Why is jaywalking a crime in the US but not in the UK? One lengthy response from a guy named Tom Chambers:

Because jaywalking is a crime invented by the car industry in the early 20th century. It wasn’t the legislative response to an inevitable problem, but essentially a publicity campaign to increase car use in the US.

Prior to jaywalking becoming a popular term and crime, pedestrians were assumed to have the right to the road. If there was an accident, popular opinion and the media would be on the side of the pedestrian and assume the fault of the driver.

The motor industry recognised that this was an impediment to driving and set out to make the street a place for cars not people. They lobbied for various laws to prevent people from crossing other than at a designated point, but people were so against this that it failed to be effectively enforced.

What worked much better was public ridicule.

The American love affair with cars was no accident , confirmed Scientific American. Continue reading “U for USA’s obsession with the car (Five Photos, Five Stories #2)”