John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also, Albuquerque is left vulnerable after outlawing barbed wire and a British ice cream-truck driver who rocked too hard is shut down.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (past editions here):
JAYWALKING, ONCE AGAIN, IN CHINA
Jaywalking has been illegal in China for a while now. The jaywalkers must not know or care about this, because 19 of them just got tickets for illegally crossing the street directly in front of traffic officers.
Yes, Beijing is trying to enforce pedestrian-safety laws again. After running a similar sting operation in 2010, the city government is sending fleets of traffic wardens out to write 10 yuan ($1.6) citations for people who flout the zebra lines. If it didn't work last time, what's to say this police action will have any effect now? Oh, right: Beijing will "rectify" jaywalkers this time, reports the Global Times, because the wardens will wear “new uniforms to emphasize their greater powers of enforcement.”
On any given day in Beijing, drivers and pedestrians are locked in a grim battle for the right of way. Cars are supposed to slow down for people in the street but rarely do. Pedestrians, meanwhile, are told to use crosswalks, but because drivers don't respect them either they often dive in wherever there's a gap in traffic. The resulting chaos of twisted bodywork both automotive and human is regularly featured in the local media, one example being Beijing Cream's distressing YouTube collection of "Accidents That Should Never Happen". (Warning: These videos show people getting knocked around by cars.)
So how's the jaywalking crackdown going so far? One traffic officer told the Global Times that people were still running across the streets in front of her, and seem to have developed a "safety in numbers" tactic: "Over 80 jaywalkers dodged the traffic to cross the very busy road at Dawang Bridge, Chaoyang district, in five minutes from 13:21 pm to 13:25 pm against the red light, regardless of traffic wardens' attempts to halt them."
BARBED WIRE, IN NEW MEXICO
(A typical front door in Albuquerque. OK, not really – it's a jail in Southeast Asia. Photo courtesy of alex.ch on Flickr.)
Quick, everyone: Grab your burglary tools and head to Albuquerque! It'll be a cinch to rip these suckers off, because their government just banned barbed wire.
The city council voted in early December to outlaw the skin-tearing material as well as razor ribbon from Albuquerque homes, giving residents six months to tear down any existing wire. The reason is aesthetics: City-code enforcer Brennon Williams testified that "[b]arbed wire gives the impression or leads folks to believe that a particular area is not as safe and secure as the council would prefer it to look."
That's kind of the idea, say opponents of the ban, who worry they are now nakedly exposed to criminals penetrating their domains not to mention herds of wandering cattle. City councilor Ken Sanchez confessed to feeling "very concerned about those people and families that put it up for a reason," according to KOAT Albuquerque. And while suddenly barb-less homeowners might turn to fences with jutting daggers on them, Sanchez said it just wasn't the same thing: "Maybe you put up a fence thinking you're going to be in compliance and still be safe, but really, how much protection are you getting from one of the spikes? Probably not very much."
As of press time, it was unclear how the residents of Albuquerque's Barbed Wire Drive feel about this ban.
ROCKING-OUT ICE CREAM MAN, IN THE U.K.
A British court has ruled that the driver of an ice-cream truck should be kept off the streets for two years for "playing his chimes too loud and shouting abuse when people complained," writes the Daily Mail. The Mail's takedown of Derbyshire dairy-slinger David Wilson includes a few tasty nuggets, such as:
• Wilson is said to have played his chimes at 84 decibels, so loud that one resident said it was "like having a police car in your living room";
• He allegedly called somebody complaining about the noise a "gay boy";
• He "gave a two-fingered salute to my mother and daughter," accused another local;
• By his own admission, he told angry residents that "there's not a lot you can do about it."