YPD to continue jaywalk citations

The crackdown on jaywalking across Elm Street has reached a crossroads, though the origin of that crossroads is still unknown.

While Yale Police Department Assistant Chief Ronnell Higgins said he is not aware of the new crosswalks that have been drawn on Elm Street between College and High streets — as well as other frequently jaywalked areas — he did not contest their legitimacy or their use by students. Although neither he nor New Haven Safe Streets Coalition member Mark Abraham ’04 said they know the origin of the crosswalks, they may come to represent a compromise between student jaywalkers and YPD officers who have been issuing written warnings to jaywalkers as part of what Higgins called an “educational” effort.

For those who still choose not to walk along these new crosswalks — each of which feature a drawing of a person in stride — Higgins said enforcement through warnings will continue. And the YPD, he said, has not ruled out the possibility of eventually issuing fines.

The reason for the increased vigilance, Higgins said, was a lack of respect for safety on the part of both drivers and pedestrians.

“We noticed an increase not only in jaywalking, but also drivers not yielding to pedestrians and crosswalks,” he said.

The focus, he explained, is equally distributed between motor and foot traffic.

“We tried to educate the drivers and in some instances cite them,” he said. “[But] pedestrians also have a responsibility to cross safely.”

Officers have also been monitoring pedestrian traffic at other key intersections, such as the intersections of Trumbull and Hillhouse streets, North Frontage Road and York Street and across Tower Parkway. The police were not attempting a crackdown, Higgins said. He defended the warnings and said “ultimately, we’re trying to educate. We’ve found that over time, education has been very successful.”

Other education efforts include compiling safety tips onto bookmarks and “engaging” with pedestrians at heavily trafficked areas.

Pedestrians interviewed Wednesday, though, said they think these efforts are a waste of police effort. Higgins said while jaywalkers, including those on Elm Street, seem to appreciate when police cite unsafe drivers, they show little enthusiasm when the penal focus turns to unsafe pedestrians.

“They shouldn’t give out tickets,” said Stephanie Cousins ’12, just after jaywalking across Elm Street without any YPD officers in sight. “This is a major route, even without a crosswalk.”

Brian Hoefling ’12 insisted that pedestrians have earned the right to cross without interference from police.

“If you can survive crossing the street, you deserve not to be stopped,” he said after jaywalking across Elm Street.

Berkeley College Master Marvin Chun, whose college faces one of the prime areas for foot traffic on campus said the YPD should balance safety with fairness to students.

“I do think there are many ways to improve ‘walkability’ in heavy traffic areas,” he said. “But I think they should have given a warning before the citations.”

When reminded that no fines were levied with the warnings, he went on to say, “I guess without fines, the tickets are the warnings.”

In the meantime, the effectiveness of the new midway crosswalks remains to be determined. On Wednesday afternoon, even as a handful of people took note of and followed the new crosswalk on Elm Street, the majority of students opted to bypass the new crosswalk as well.

City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said Wednesday night she is not familiar with the new crosswalks, She deferred comment to the Office of Public Works and the Department of Transportation, neither of which could be reached for comment.


  • Jefferson Freeman

    The re-make of Calhoun and the closure of the Battell gate entrance to the old campus exacerbates the problem. A temp solution (for 2008 - 2009 year) could be to place a mid-block crosswalk, without lights but with warning signs, spanning Elm St. at the cross-campus gateway.

  • The Lorax

    Considering that yesterday 3 students came darting out from behind a parked delivery truck already in motion straight into the fully moving all-lanes-full midday traffic RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY CAR and with a large crowd on the other side pushing into the lanes of traffic, I think it is safe to say that it is only time before someone gets hurt.

    Students, please please use the crosswalk. I don't want your blood on my hands. It really doesn't add that much time or effort to walk half the block to the High St. crosswalk and it certainly isn't worth risking ruining both our lives.

  • Yale Grad & New haven Resident

    It's about time that more stingent enforcement of pedestrain crossing and driver traffic rules be applied to both pedestrians and drivers. For years Yale students have had the attitude that drivers must yield to them, despite illegally jaywalking across dangerous and busy traffic intersections.

    This "entitled to jaywalk" attitute is commonly known by all who live, work and drive in the city. Each year, more Yale students are injured, hospitalized and even killed in New Haven because of jaywalking and not paying attention when crossing city streets. It's clear to me why the Yale and New Have Police departments are stepping up enforcement by issuing tickets to jaywalkers in the vicinity of the Yale campus. The city and Yale could concievably be held legally liable for lax or non enforcement of basic pedestrian crossing rules and ordinances that have been on the books for years. It's all about the safety of pedestrians, drivers and the law!

  • y'09

    Only time before people get hurt? Many students have already been hurt, or worse. Students at this place seem to have very short memories.

    There will always be risk. Given the volume of traffic, we should be focused on eliminating that risk. That means converting the busy streets near campus, especially Elm, Grove and Chapel, into slow streets like many major city centers have. Does this city really feel like it is special, and needs to have highways running everywhere?

    You can't say it's all about personal responsibility. What if someone is having a really sucky day, is momentarily distracted, or is disabled? With thousands of people walking across here every day, the risk will always be there.

    that doesn't mean people have to die, which seems to be the university's and city's position when it comes to streets.

    The University and city need to step up. Given how many students have been hit, it is really a shame that nothing major has been done about this yet. It reflects very poorly on President Levin.

  • cashmoney

    Yale Corp can't throw down some bank so the students can cross Elm safely? Build a tunnel or a bridge!

    It is super dangerous though, seriously. The problem is that you are going to jaywalk if you're going to class. I leave for class five minutes before, knowing that if I don't get the light, I'll have to jaywalk or it's going to be a 10 minute walk.

  • HEY!!

    Look here ya little whipper snappers!! You kids want to enforce traffic laws for safe streets, right? But when people on foot or bikes break the law, they too have to get tickets. Can not have it both ways.

  • Andrew

    As a student who jaywalks and drives around the Yale campus on a daily basis, I feel I see both sides of this issue.

    Keep jaywalking, just be smart and cautious about it. As poster #2 says above, please don't ruin both our lives.

  • Sam

    Well, why don't I make a citizens' arrest of the Yale Police on bicycles who ride on the sidewalks? That's illegal.

    All of this is ridiculous. Crime on the Yale campus is much higher than the national average, and all the lazy campus cops have to do is ticket jaywalkers???????

    Why don't thy spend more time locking up muggers.

  • city rez/faculty

    The studied indifference to cars that have the right of way, ignoring traffic lights and walk lights, not bothering to look as one crosses a street, jumping into an intersection to claim right of way even when the car is already committed to turning in a busy intersection and forcing the car to jam on the brakes mid-turn, cruising down the sidewalks of Whitney Ave on a bike and leaping into the intersection and wanting to claim right of way in a crosswalk without stopping to look both ways--ah yes, the entitlement is seeping out all over these pages.
    But there is another perspective, colleges need to be designed so students can get to class. The design of traffic flow in this town is ridiculous. We who live in the city and have to get places do not WANT to go down these streets with college kids playing chicken with us. We Have To. You, on the other hand, do not have to jaywalk. Grow up. Walk safe. Enforcing traffic violations and other "minor" crime is a deterrent and a signal that the police are watching and appears to reduce more serious crime.

  • q

    how about closing down ALL streets around campus? that would solve all of these problems, make them european style streets, with pedestrian brick, fountains, beautiful benches, and no (or very limited, 5mph, one lane) traffic. shouldn't the city wake up and smell the 21st century?

  • Joe A.

    I cross whenever the coast appears to be clear. i turn my eyes towards the other side and in that blink a car has zoomed around the corner,flew out of a parking spot,ran a red light, i can almost count on a car beating the red light. If we cross en mass it would be safer for everybody.
    The cops are "getting to know youuu,getting to know all of your doings"
    timing and stalllking…

  • HEY!

    By q

    Ya close the streets down!?? what about the working class tax payers of this city!! We don't want our streets closed to cater to students. You are visitors here, remember that and respect the law . You are NOT above it!

  • q

    HEY!, the tax benefits from closing streets, and bringing in more tourists, would benefit the whole city! And we could build more streets for you and maintain the ones here!

    The city needs to develop its economy so it can educate its children and provide health care and jobs, not cater to a few idiotic wannabe suburban residents who want to drive through downtown at 50 miles per hour!

    Every other great city in the world (Rome, Paris, New York) is a good walking city, does New Haven have aspirations to be that way too? Or does it just want to be a bunch of decaying city blocks separated by superhighways?