8.25.2012

Estes Park has ZERO TOLERANCE for Jaywalking


 on our trip through Colorado a few weeks back we took the northern route to go from Boulder to Breckenridge...

the original intent was to retrace some step that we took a few years prior on several trips to Grand Lake on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park
there were a few short hikes I wanted to check out
lunch in downtown Grand Lake and even mini-golf were considerations
but alas no...
our morning departure happened in the afternoon which altered our plans

we were able to take the northern route... only with fewer stops
in fact... we nearly raced through the park... only stopping for an hour or so at the top of Ridge Road to allow the boys to climb the rocks
then we motored our way through... not stopping for anything until our destination
no mini-golf... no soft ice cream... no shopping in t-shirt stores 
nothing... pedal to the metal

but let me tell this... 

with the car pointed north out of north Boulder we said our goodbyes to our DC friends that recently took up their District roots and moved to Boulder Colorado
on Route 36 we passed countless road cyclists doing their road biker thing
we had had a good few days in Boulder and we were looking for some mountain adventures in the high altitude town of Breckenridge

we traveled in a line of cars where people were headed to the mountains to do something similar
some cars going excessively fast and others going absurdly slow
I tried to drive like Goldie Locks... just right
maybe leaning closer to fast than slow

when we arrived in Estes Park I was amazed at the mob scene...
the sidewalks were packed with slow moving herds of American Tourists
which means many were Weebles Wobbling... stopped with their fat ankles parked right in the middle of the sidewalk as they plotted their next stop... ice cream or candy? French Fries or Beef Jerky?

we found a parking spot at the far end of town and tried to weave our way through the cattle call

we needed lunch... I wanted to get the boys some wool caps... and of course
there was our never ending search to find each of the boys a knife

we tried to hustle through each store with a purpose
trying to limit our browsing and trying to focus on shopping

we did not find that magical hat sale nor did we find that knife that we were looking for
but we did find a burger joint that did not have too long of a line and even had table seating for our pack of three
we placed our order and waited for our number to be called

we ate our lunches and then headed towards the car on the opposite side of the street
visiting an assortment of stores... always realizing that shopping was background noise to our objective
driving was our primary objective... adventure at the scenic overlooks and trailheads would be our secondary objective
our late start altered our plans

we came up empty on our knife and hat search
oh... we found plenty of hats and plenty of knives
just not the hat and knife combination with the price point that we were seeking
the boys would have been happy with many of the selections
but none met my approval
price being the primary deterrent 

while weaving our way through the overside madness on tourist packed sidewalks I noticed something I had witnessed before
Estes Park has a Zero Tolerance policy for Jay Walking
on my prior passes through town I had witnessed the Estes Park Police or police-like personnel walking the streets issuing tickets to those who had been caught crossing outside of the crosswalk

in previous years I had seen the police meandering about and I had seen the scoff law walkers being issued citations
but this time I saw something more
I saw the Estes Park Police standing and waiting... watching people exit their cars getting and getting ready to cross mid block
I watched as the police watched

it intrigued me that these police officers had missed their point
the point is not to punish... but to protect and serve
the objective is to keep people from getting hit by cars
to change the behavior so that less people jay walk... thus less pedestrians are hit by passing cars
not to issue a citation and generate revenue

but instead
I watched as they watched
like I was a nature film maker on the mountain top
watching the mountain fox slowly approach the ptarmigan 

now... in both cases were I stalled to watch the ptarmigan got away
or I mean...
the pedestrians about to cross mid-block altered their trajectory
and
the people getting out of the parked car did not immediately cross the street but took their bodies to the curb
which left the stack of tickets and pen in the officer's pocket

to this I was slightly disgusted
as it did not seem like the right way to play this

is the ultimate goal to protect the visitors or to generate revenue

if the ultimate goal is to protect the visitors that maybe the officer should have pre-empted the behavior politely by approaching the would be scoff laws with a prepared intro

"good afternoon.... the town of Estes Park wants to keep its streets safe... to do such we ask that all visitors cross at the crosswalk when the lights grant them their turn... we appreciate your respecting the law... be alert... if caught jaywalking there will be a penalty"

or something to that effect

yes... it would be tedious
but... nothing taints a vacation like an unnecessary ticket
my problem with ticketing jaywalkers... in so many cases it is no more safe to cross in the crosswalk than crossing mid block



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