About a year ago, we got linked to across the country for running an item on then-Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez being lectured by a Seattle cop for attempting to jaywalk outside of Safeco Field after a game.
Lots of commentary back and forth on the merits of being overzealous in enforcing bylaws versus having to scrape somebody off the pavement after being flattened by a car. Frankly, I wish they’d enforce some laws here about people driving below the minimum speed limit in the left lane, but that’s just my Montreal roots showing. They like their Formula One racing over there.
Anyhow, Chicago White Sox GM Ken Williams found out the hard way yesterday just how serious we in Seattle are about who can cross the street and where.
Williams had just completed what I think was a shrewd late-season pick-up, claiming Alex Rios off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays (J.P. Ricciardi gone in 5,4,3…), and obviously had places to get to and people to see. In some busy cities, time is money and walking to the curb to do your street crossing (when the road is virtually empty) would be seen as a waste of valuable time.
But not here.
Here in Seattle, we think staying alive is worth the extra minute or two. I kind of fall in-between. The thing is, I was born and raised in a place where the jaywlking is an art form and crossing at the curb is no guarantee of your survival. Ask former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee, who, while pitching for the Expos late in his career, had a cab come up on the curb and hit him while he was out jogging.
And I’d noticed, over the years, that the fatality rate of pedestrians in Montreal tended to be a lot lower than it was in other cities where people did not know how to artfully/properly/successfully jaywalk. Or, who would cross at the curb with headphones on, reading a magazine, assuming that every car out there was going to stop and allow them to saunter through the intersection at a leisurely pace.
Not sure what the stats are here compared to the national average. I suppose I could check it out at some point, but I do have a playoff race to monitor, right?
And besides, this is Seattle, and we have to adapt to the ways the city is run. Just like how in Montreal, visiting ballplayers had to learn to accept that it was perfectly reasonable to have a “businessman’s lunch” in a popular downtown strip club.
We all make sacrifices.
And honestly, Williams played some major league ball in Toronto, a city just as rigid about jaywalking as Seattle can be. I’ll bet you he knows better than to throw bats or balls at seagulls after seeing what happened to Dave Winfield in that place. And now, if he needed a refresher course on jaywalking, he’s got it.
And our city can sleep easy knowing our streets are free and clear for cars. At least, until the next time it snows.