Coral Gables Cracks Down on Jaywalking
On April 1, a young man and woman were walking along Miracle Mile when they decided to cross the street. They glanced left. No cars coming. They glanced right. Nada. So they slowly crossed the four lanes without a problem.
As they proceeded along the sidewalk again, however, a Coral Gables bicycle cop pulled a U-turn and raced over to them. In an instant he had handed each a $77 ticket for jaywalking. "It was idiotic," says the woman, who asked New Times to withhold her name. "The cop was screaming at us as if we'd shot someone. Meanwhile, there wasn't a car in sight."
They weren't the only ones caught off-guard by the citation. In fact, Coral Gables cops handed out 28 jaywalking tickets during a two-month anti-jaywalking frenzy this spring. That likely makes Miracle Mile the worst place to (jay) walk in all of Miami-Dade.
Bizarrely, jaywalking is already in the news. Two weeks ago, Phoenix TV stations aired a video of Arizona State University police arresting and manhandling a black female professor after stopping her for walking in the street.
A video of Dr. Ersula Ore's arrest — during which she was slammed to the ground by a male cop and handcuffed — quickly went viral. Critics accused the cop of racial profiling, and ASU asked an outside agency to review the arrest.
But the incident also exposed the arbitrariness of jaywalking citations. "I never once saw a single, solitary individual get pulled over by a cop for walking across a street on a campus, in a campus location," Ore told police.
In Coral Gables, jaywalking citations appear to be equally unpredictable. Records requested by New Times show jaywalking tickets vary wildly by year, with 58 in 2011, 104 in 2012, just 14 in 2013, and 28 already in 2014. They also vary wildly by month. Coral Gables cops didn't dish out a single jaywalking ticket in January and February, according to Lt. Paul Miyares. But they issued 13 in March and 12 in April. Then zero again in May.
Miyares says he has no idea why citations swing so violently from month to month or year to year, but there is no crackdown underway in the Gables. "We've given 14,000 citations this year and only 27 for jaywalking," he says.
Records from elsewhere in the county, however, suggest Coral Gables is being particularly aggressive. Take Miami Beach, where driving across Lincoln Road is harder than fording the river in Oregon Trail because of Britto-bag-toting jaywalkers. Yet Miami Beach cops handed out only eight jaywalking tickets last year. So far this year, they've issued only another eight.
"It's rare," says MBPD spokesman Bobby Hernandez. "Usually it's associated with an accident."
Miami-Dade PD doesn't even keep track of jaywalking stats. But in Coral Gables, crossing the street without a walk signal is apparently a scourge. The 204 tickets issued in the past three and a half years amount to $15,708.
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