Dashing Through the Road, How Not to Get Slayed, Try Not to Get Hurt, It Will Ruin Your Day

Editor’s note: The Review and its staff do not condone jaywalking in any form. 

Jaywalking: we all know about it. Most of us do it. Some of us love it. Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a pedestrian who crosses a street without regard to traffic regulations,” “jaywalker” is a term that could be used to describe many an Oberlin student. This pastime among Obies is likely popular for a number of reasons: it lets you get from place to place on campus faster (West Lorain Street between the Science Center and Wilder Hall, I’m looking at you); you get to be a little mischief-causing rascal; and most importantly, it’s just plain fun. There’s such a thrill in walking into the street and crossing just before a car rushes past. 

Let’s say, for example, that you are trying to get from your 10 a.m. Biology class in the Science Center over to DeCafé to pick up an early lunch, then back to the Science Center atrium to study with your…  good friend. After a study session, you’re both pretty tired, so you walk back to your room in South Hall to… take a nap. Once you’ve finished with that, though, you need to go back to the Science Center (you’re double majoring in Neuroscience and Chemistry and might as well set up camp in the Love Lounge considering how much time you spend there). This is a routine that you follow fairly frequently, and you’ve gotten a bit frustrated with the fact that you need to walk all the way to the corner where the crosswalk is located in order to cross the street. If only there were a faster way to get from place to place! Sometimes you wistfully stare at those who dare to cross the street right outside the entrance to the Science Center, and you wish that you were bold enough to try it yourself.

There are two main types of jaywalkers that I have observed during my time at Oberlin. The first is the New York jaywalker. These students walk brazenly into the street, barely even glancing for oncoming traffic before fearlessly stepping out. They believe the cars will simply stop and wait for them; that’s what it’s like in Park Slope, Brooklyn, after all, and New York City is the only place in the world. Second, there is the California jaywalker. Used to car-centric city designs, where the only safe places to cross roads are clearly marked crosswalks with flashing lights and chirping sounds, they hover hesitantly at the edge of the street for several moments, nervously looking both ways before scuttling across the street like small crabs on their childhood beaches. 

Neither of these strategies are especially safe or efficient, although the New York Obies’ strategy does seem like a very effective way to get nearly hit by an oncoming vehicle. But what if I told you that, hypothetically, it doesn’t need to be this way? What if I told you that, hypothetically, you can, in fact, cross the street between the Science Center and Wilder quickly and safely if you know how to do it right? 

How would one go about this, you may ask? Well, hypothetically, if you were to jaywalk, I would recommend going about it with a good bit of caution and a little bit of confidence. You are at liberty to do it — but do it safely! In this hypothetical situation, I would recommend looking both ways before stepping out into the street where there is not a crosswalk. This is also good practice for crossing at a crosswalk, as you never know what kind of drivers will be on the road on a given day. But what exactly are you looking for? Hypothetically, if you were to attempt to jaywalk, it would be advisable for the nearest cars to be at least one block away from you on either side. Also, if you were to attempt to commit such a heinous crime, it could perhaps be a good idea to walk quickly across the street. Hypothetically, you shouldn’t need to run if the distance and speed of the cars has been accurately gauged, but I also wouldn’t recommend dilly-dallying. If I knew anything about this and could offer any more advice, I would also add that it does take a bit of practice, and one should always err on the side of caution. This method is nearly foolproof — in my 20 years of life, it has only failed me once. 

I do, however, need to emphasize that this article is in no way seeking to encourage jaywalking. Jaywalking is, in fact, quite dangerous, and I merely wish to highlight the way in which it could, hypothetically, be done more safely. There are serious consequences to doing it badly — trust me, I know. Getting hit by a car is no joke. When choosing to cross the street in a less-than-legal manner, it is important to remember one of the cardinal rules of health and safety at Oberlin: you need to be able to stay alive long enough to get to the world-renowned, top-notch Mercy Health – Allen Hospital Emergency Department. You wouldn’t want to risk going to University Hospitals or, God forbid, Cleveland Clinic. Just think about how awful that would be.