My Thoughts On Philly’s Texting-While-Walking Initiative (Updated)

Suffice it to say, I know a little bit about pedestrian perils. We needn’t rehash why. I’ll let that picture of a helmet I had to wear for several months while pieces of my skull sat in a Cooper University Hospital freezer waiting to be fused back in over my battered brain speak for itself.

Which brings us to this week, and the uproar over one sliver of Philadelphia’s “Get Respect Give Respect” campaign designed to promote safety among the walking, pedaling and driving populations. It’s resulted in roughly 600 tickets for disrespectful bikers thus far. That made a ripple. It’s also resulted in angst about the fact that police have been handing out warnings for distracted walking i.e. crossing the street with your eyes locked on a BlackBerry (or iPhone or something along those lines) instead of adhering to the “left, right, left” mantra.


Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation, says the authority intends to increase its efforts.

“We think that’s a good start and we think we’ve got people’s attention. But for those people who don’t seem to care if they’re creating an unsafe environment, we’ll probably start writing a lot more tickets,” she said. “We need to slow down, pay attention to what’s around us, be it bicyclists or pedestrians, and let’s all try to get along out there.”

Here’s a link to a PDF of the brochures which have been distributed thus far.

My initial reaction: “If people weren’t walking around texting, 32 people wouldn’t have gotten shot a few weekends back.”

My reaction after sleeping on it: Enough of the whining. I’ve seen too many people wander out into the middle of the street while texting or sexting or checking their Twitter feed and not realize it. If we’re going to whine about bad drivers (of which there are many) and bad bicyclists (of which there are many), pedestrians (myself included) aren’t exempt from honoring the rules and courtesies of the road.

Is it necessary to slam people for text-walking with $120 fines? Nope. Not by a long shot. Even if it is, in the oft-repeated words of Mayor Michael Nutter, “the worst recession since the Great Depression” and the city’s starved for cash. But if it takes warnings and the occasional ticket for blatant offenses and regular offenders to keep anybody else from having to wear one of those damn helmets, Give Respect Get Respect until your hearts content, Philly PD.

UPDATE: Cutler told 6ABC that there will be no tickets for text-walking. I hope they continue with the warnings, though. More here:

“The City’s ‘Give Respect-Get Respect’ campaign is an educational initiative for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to be more aware and mindful of each other on Philadelphia’s roads. This grant funded traffic safety enforcement and educational program targets all users of our roads. Texting while walking is not illegal, but it is dangerous. We want everyone on Philadelphia’s streets to be aware of both their safety and the safety of others.”

2 comments for “My Thoughts On Philly’s Texting-While-Walking Initiative (Updated)

  1. August 20, 2011 at 08:59

    Right on my man!

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