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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Anti-jaywalking ordinance hits city streets

Pedestrian crosswalks, or “safety lanes,” were coming to the city to guard against potentially dangerous jaywalking. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Pedestrian crosswalks, or “safety lanes,” were coming to the city to guard against potentially dangerous jaywalking. (Spokesman-Review archives)

A relatively new and serious safety problem – jaywalking – prompted a proposed new pedestrian ordinance in Spokane.

The new law would make jaywalking a punishable offense, and then went further by creating new “safety lanes” – pedestrian crosswalks – at street corners.

An anti-jaywalking law had been enacted in Spokane two years before, but it proved difficult to enforce and finally was repealed.

This new law, said its proponents, would be better. The pedestrians, as long as they were in their safety lanes, would have “absolute right of way and drivers of automobiles must wait for a clear passage.” Autos, on the other hand, would have the right of way between corners, i.e., everywhere except the corner crosswalks.

The city’s Chamber of Commerce, which prepared the ordinance, said it would be better for both pedestrians and drivers. “As it is now, the automobile driver has no protection at all,” said one of the proponents. “A driver can never tell when someone is going to step from behind a parked automobile, a streetcar, or seemingly from thin air, directly in front of his machine. If an accident occurs, the car owner has no recourse and in nearly every case is held liable.”

The proposed ordinance, he said, was “backed by a number of the businessmen of the city and by all the automobile owners and drivers.”

Also on this date:

(From Associated Press)

1777: The Second Continental Congress approved the design of the original American flag.

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