Monday, May 09, 2005

First the smokers, then les piétons rebels...

City's top cops gird for a long jaywalking war

Montreal Gazette
Saturday, May 07, 2005

It will take years to stop the time-honoured tradition of jaywalking on the streets of Montreal, police officials conceded yesterday.

"It's a behaviour we must change," said assistant chief Mario Gisondi of the Montreal police. "But it's a long-term job."

Gisondi made the comments at a news conference as the Societe de l'assurance automobile du Quebec unveiled its annual report on road accidents in 2004.

While Surete du Quebec and Montreal police officials made similar comments last year, nearly half the people killed in traffic accidents on Montreal Island in 2004 were pedestrians, and that level hasn't changed.

But Jean-Francois Pelletier, chief road safety inspector with Montreal police, said the department has a five-year plan to tackle the problem. They'll start by setting up 200 kiosks and holding information sessions this year.

The Montreal police have nearly doubled the number of fines issued to motorists who don't respect pedestrians' right of way. In 2004, they ticketed 1,297 of those drivers, compared with 644 in 2003. In the meantime, more than 2,000 pedestrians have been fined in each of the past two years.

Pelletier said the campaign against jaywalking could be compared to the efforts nearly 20 years ago to get motorists to wear seatbelts and stop driving under the influence of alcohol.

Transport Minister Michel Despres announced he is creating a task force from law enforcement, the automobile insurance corporation and other partners to review all road safety issues.

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