THE PRICE OF JAYWALKING

A summary of views, commentary and sometimes comedy.

The Boston city government has a penchant for passing transportation laws that should disappear into the annals of minutiae. First, there was the carpool lane, heralded as the greatest invention since, well, it was invented on the other side of the country.

Now, Mayor Thomas M. Menino is vowing to enforce the state law that prohibits jaywalking. That's right--jay-walking. In Boston. And the fine for breaking the law? One dollar. Two dollars for repeat offenders. Talk about cheap thrills.

What in the world is he thinking? What do people do in Boston if they don't jaywalk, as free as the proverbial birds? It could be a slogan for a clever opponent of Menino's in the next election who seizes upon his weakness: "Menino doesn't know Boston. I know Boston, and Boston jaywalks. Vote for Trillertrot." You can hear the wild cheering now.

As part of his "pedestrian safety initiative," Menino has also installed 10 cameras at the most dangerous intersections in Boston. We'd like him to spend a day with his camera at the intersection of Mass. Ave. and JFK, just in front of the Coop, watching not for cars but for those wily walkers.

The sights he would see would shock and disturb him (they disturb us, anyway). Students dodging for cover from speeding taxis with only their backpacks as shields. Business people in nice clothes swearing at drivers who are trying to make the green light. Little Boston and Cambridge children who have had long practice staring down drivers until they turn around and go the wrong way down a one-way street.

Yes, of course it's a problem, Mr. Mayor, but what are you going to do about it? Where will this lead? And what will you do with the money?

It would be fine and good to donate it to mending roads or paving cobble-stone sidewalks. But if the city's coffers are full, there's another solution:

Take all the dollar bills you collect and buy donuts for the police officers so they'll have something better to do with their time. Now that's the way to run a city. Sarah J. Schaffer