Forget homicides, Chicago focuses on the menace of crosswalk texters

The Windy City’s population is falling again this year as nearly two residents per day are blown away by gunfire or carved to death by knives.

But as Rahm Emanuel is famous for saying in his Obama White House days, never let a good crisis go to waste.

So Mayor Emanuel’s machine City Council is focused on another critical urban issue: Pedestrians texting while crossing the street. Also talking on cells.

Here’s the keen insight the mayor offered about that:

Everybody does it and then everybody is irritated when someone else does it. So my total view is, I want to look at it. I think it has something to do with people’s own safety.

Anthony Beale, one of the measure’s sponsors, added:

Passage and enforcement of this new law would increase safety by eliminating distractions for pedestrians at intersections and elsewhere in the City of Chicago.

Chicago is a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants. But not for walking texters. With all the city’s other crime clearly under control, the proposed municipal legislation would have Chicago police officers monitoring crosswalks for “distracted walking” — pedestrians texting or talking on a cell within city crosswalks.

Fines could range from $90 to $500. (That would depend on how many characters in the text–just kidding.) Who would officers ticket first — texters or talkers? Aren’t there lawsuits waiting somewhere in there for profiling and enforcement bias? And how well will Chicagoans hide their cell earbuds?

“We have a public safety concern,” said Ricardo Munoz, another council supporter, “of people being immersed on their phones walking, especially downtown with all these bike lanes and the traffic, that people should be paying attention.”

As with many such feel-good rules and regulations, however, there is absolutely no data to support any link between the problem and the proposed solution — pedestrian deaths and distracted walking. It does sound good, though. Why let lack of actual evidence spoil a silly idea that can get a City Hall pol on local TV?

So far in 2017, 27 pedestrians have died on Chicago streets, a whopping annual increase of one.

This statistic has likely changed in the last few minutes. But at last report, so far this year Chicago has experienced 569 homicides. That’s down slightly from 2016’s full-year murder total of 762.

So, perhaps officers will indeed have extra time to patrol each city crosswalk, four for every single intersection in Chicago’s 234 square miles.