Posts Tagged ‘OTS’

Kurt Reinhold was the black man shot dead on Sept 23rd by Orange County Sheriff deputies — for the crime of jaywalking. One unanswered question about this deeply troubling incident is: what was the OC Sheriff doing patrolling a commercial district in San Clemente?

According to the official narrative, the deputies were part of a homeless outreach task force responding to a report that Kurt was walking in the street. Another possibility is that they were participating in a State-funded jaywalking sting. Here is an announcement the OC Sheriff released two days prior to the shooting:

This blog has long criticized the OTS safety enforcement program, because it hassles pedestrians over picayune violations of the vehicle code. The video recording of Reinhold’s murder begins with him being visibly agitated over his minor “jaywalking” transgression, and asking where he was supposed to cross given the street’s lack of crosswalks. This has all the hallmarks of a classic OTS sting operation: pick a location with dysfunctional traffic engineering and then write lots of jaywalking tickets.

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You look ridiculous

You look ridiculous, and I’m not just talking about the vests:

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Another pedestrian-safety tweet from the dingbats at CA-OTS. The message is: when a pedestrian gets hit, they probably had it coming.

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To celebrate Pedestrian Safety Month, the California Office of Traffic Safety has sent this out on their Twitter feed:

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This messaging makes clear that cars are the top of the pecking order. How about instead they flip it around to say: “Driving around? Think two steps ahead, and drive the way you would want to act if you were walking.”

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This past week, Berkeley police were out in force writing $250 tickets to cyclists for rolling stop signs on Milvia and the Ohlone trail. For those who don’t know Berkeley, these are the two of the safest places to walk or ride a bike in the city.

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In a Tweet, Berkeley Mayor Arreguin denied responsibility for the crackdown. As he pointed out, it is actually city policy to use limited police resources on dangerous driver behavior.

But the Mayor and Council are not exactly blameless here. This crackdown is the result of a state grant City Council applied for. Each year the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) gives money to local law enforcement to conduct these kinds of stings. As one of California’s most dangerous cities for bikes/peds, Berkeley routinely receives OTS grant money. Apparently, one condition of the OTS grant is that recipients conduct targeted enforcement against bikes/peds. Berkeley and other cities have regularly used OTS funds for this purpose.

So in accepting the OTS grant, it was inevitable cyclists and pedestrians would get caught up in a dragnet, and many on the Berkeley City Council surely knew this because they’ve heard complaints about it before. One year in particular stands out, when an OTS-funded jaywalking sting was conducted near UC campus. Quite a number of UC students attended a City Council meeting that evening to vent frustration at the exorbitant fines.

The OTS is one of those highway agencies few have heard of, but which desperately needs reform. The OTS promotes outdated safety advice bordering on victim-blaming. OTS admonishes pedestrians to wear bright colors and carry flashlights. Bike helmets are heavily promoted, and the OTS warns against distracted walking. So it is not surprising that OTS traffic safety grants would fund some dubious enforcement strategies. Cities that want to promote bike/ped travel should avoid OTS grant programs.

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