Enforcing Jaywalking With Mimes?

Bogotá, Colombia changed public opinion about jaywalking by putting mimes on the street to mock people who crossed illegally. Paul Romer of Stanford looks at other interventions that changed public opinion when laws couldn't.

Urination in the streets of Paris is a problem that Romer says has yet to be solved, but they might take a hint from Bogota or New Delhi:

"New Delhi, a city where public spitting and urination present similar problems, is having better luck preventing such behavior on its new subway system. A recent New York Times story on New Delhi's metro offers a nice illustration of how to establish new rules, particularly informal ones, enforced by norms."

Romer also cites New York's public announcements about new rules against squeegeeing cars without permission (a panhandling strategy) as another method that worked.

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walking is not a crime

i think in NYC if a mime started mocking you 'jaywalking' they would find themselves being thrown into oncoming traffic. there should be nothing illegal about crossing a street, streets are meant to be crossed. it was all part of 1920s autopia to criminalize walking.

brilliant creativity & context

I think that the point of the article is to demonstrate brilliant creativity - and using humour/pride is a great one.

In terms of jaywalking - well you need to look at the fatalities and context. Major arterials in Bogota can be 8 lanes wide and pedestrian crossings are sparse. Every city is different and there are lots of other behaviours (ie littering), that the same concept could be applied to.


Dare to be inspired by good ideas and innovation no matter where they begin - Recognise them, spread them - Be a part of the globalisation of information.

We did that too

The ridicule strategy was used in U.S. cities quite a bit in the early 20th century, when the automobile industry was trying to rid the streets of people to make room for cars. Here's a snippet from Peter Norton's awesome book, Fighting Traffic:

"In Syracuse's pioneering safety campaign of December 1913, a man in a Santa Claus suit used a megaphone to denounce careless pedestrians as 'jaywalkers.' According to one safety reformer, those singled out for this treatment 'never forgot it.'"

"San Francisco pedestrians who thought they were minding their own business found themselves pulled into mocked up outdoor courtrooms. In front of crowds of onlookers they were lectured on the perils of 'jaywalking.'"

fighting traffic

i'm reading that book now, i agree, i highly recommend it.

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