Entrapment at the bus stop.

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Entrapment at the bus stop.

A story recently appeared in the news sphere that has disturbed me deeply.  A mother and her three children in Marietta, Georgia, arrived at the bus stop across the street from their apartment.  While crossing the street, her four year-old child was hit and killed by a car.  The man who killed her child, Jerry Guy, served six months in jail and is on five years of probation.

But, she was charged with and convicted of second-degree vehicular homicide — because she was jaywalking. You can see the full story below.

I believe this case illustrates the entrapment the city uses against the underprivileged.  Read below for my argument.

For the moment, we will put aside a few of the facts.  The man who killed A.J. Nelson had been drinking and was on pain medications.  He was partially blind in one eye.  The accident happened at night. This was his third hit-and-run accident.   The jury who convicted her was not a jury of her peers: they all reported that they had never had to use public transportation or walk along a busy street.  But, forget about all of that for right now.

Let’s talk about the bus stop issues involved.

Raquel Nelson and her family had to cross a busy four-lane street to get to their apartment.  The nearest crosswalk was almost half a mile away and required that they cross other side streets that were not well-lit.  The preferred route is obvious.  However, prosecutors have insisted that passengers should ride to the nearest crosswalk before de-busing.  That’s what the city intended when it designed the transit system, right?

An understanding of how bus stops work is necessary.  With little exception, bus stops are always paired: one on each side of the street.  The most obvious reason for this is so that you can get off at your destination, no matter the direction of travel.  But, is this what the city had in mind when designing the system?  Or did they expect their passengers to ride to the nearest crosswalk and cross there?  Let’s investigate.

I, too, live in a set of apartments along a busy boulevard — six lanes separate me from my couch at the end of the day.  I gathered images from around my home to share with you.

Satellite image showing a piece of a street and the bus stops along it marked with green and red Xs.

Figure 1. Bus Stop Aerial.

**Click any image for a larger view.**

In Figure 1, you can see bus stops on both sides of the road denoted with green and red Xs.  As you can see, each bus stop has a match on the other side of the street.

But what about those two red Xs?

Clearly they are there for the individuals who live in the neighborhood behind the field, right?  Certainly, they were not designed with the expectation that passengers would be crossing the street.

Right?

Let’s take a closer look.

A close-up showing the two bus stops. There is basically a forest behind them.

Figure 2. A close-up of the mysterious bus stops.

Here, in Figure 2, we see a close-up of the two bus stops.  It seems apparent that the city did not position them there to service the neighborhood behind them.  Once passing the great field and forest, the passenger would still have to pass through strangers’ backyards.  Something generally frowned upon by homeowners.

You can also see in this close-up that there are indeed, no crosswalks to speak of.

Just in looking at these images, it should be fairly obvious that these stops were intended to service the areas across the street.

Or perhaps, they were intended to service the fairies who live in the adjacent woodlands.

In case you were not convinced, here are directions from my apartment to the library as given to me by my city:

A map showing the bus route I should take and CLEARLY telling me to cross the street where there is not a crosswalk.

Figure 3. Directions to the library.

And, there you have it.  The city, the same one that hires the attorneys who prosecute individuals like Nelson, instructs its passengers to jaywalk.  One might say that the city was engaging in entrapment specifically targeting the underprivileged sector of society.  That hardly seems fair.

I believe the city has a few options:

  1. Redesign the public transportation system so that there are ONLY bus stops at cross walks.  Nope.  This would infuriate all the passengers and make the system even more unusable than it already is.
  2. Draw crosswalks at EVERY bus stop.  Nope.  This would infuriate all the drivers and crosswalks would cease to be even remotely effective.
  3. Drop the charges against Nelson, and stop pressing charges against bus riders for jaywalking.  √
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2 responses »

  1. They did a video basically saying what you’re saying of the actual bus crossing where the kid died. might want to watch it…

  2. The mother is still guilty of negligently crossing a busy road in an unsafe manner with kids in tow. The kid doesn’t know what’s going on. The mother does and now wants to not be held accountable for her actions.

    Should the community step in and fix the traffic/bus stop situation? Absolutely.
    Is the mother guilty of negligently contributing to her child’s death? Yes.
    Is the driver of the car guilty of killing the kid? Yes.

    Stop looking for the government to make sure that you and your child will be safe at all times, and take some responsibility for your actions. Has she suffered enough? That’s for a judge to decide based on the attitude, history and actions of the mother, that’s not for me to say after having read a blog post.

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