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Pedestrian Safety

Mayvis Coyle Redux

11:44 AM PST on February 13, 2008

Public Enemy #1

Last week, Curbed LA reported that the LAPD was busy over-enforcing traffic safety laws in Koreatown by ticketing people who were crossing the street, even some who were doing so legally. While most commentors shared my sense of outrage, there were of course a select few who were thrilled that the police were finally cracking down on the "lawless" behavior of pedestrians.
While it's certainly concerning that the LAPD is spending time harassing pedestrians that it could spend enforcing traffic laws, it shouldn't be a surprise considering the police's long-standing animosity toward pedestrians.
Two years ago, then 82-year old Mayvis Coyle stepped off the sidewalk into an intersection when she had the walk signal. Half a minute later, she was receiving a $114 ticket for obstructing the flow of traffic. It seems the elderly woman couldn't get across the intersection in the allotted 20 seconds. Coyle found the smugness of the police officer to be as offensive as the ticket itself. “I think it's completely outrageous. He treated me like a 6-year-old, like I don't know what I'm doing,” she told the Daily News.
Following a report in the Daily News, Coyle's story got picked up worldwide and she became a celebrity. The LAPD, always conscious of looking like fools on the world stage, quickly apologized and tore up the ticket. They received an accommodation from Councilwoman Wendy Greuel for acting so quickly to fix a mistake.
Of course, that's not what really happened.
The LAPD closed ranks and despite changing the intersection timing at the request of the Councilwoman, attempts to get the ticket taken care were brushed aside. When contacted by the Ellen Degeneres show to make an appearance, Coyle told them she was being threatened by the LAPD not to do any more media appearances. In July of 2006, a judge found Coyle guilty but waived the fine.
And if that's not bad enough, Coyle's fine of $114 was more than the fine if a car had "accidently" crashed into her while she was crossing the street and the signal was still white.
When a story breaks about the LAPD harassing pedestrians in the name of traffic flow (and it will happen again, and again...), remember Mayvis Coyle and prepare to be outraged all over again.
Image via Transportation Alternatives

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