A License To Walk

Look at that poor woman walking!Some people inside and outside the bicycling community believe that we should require cyclists to get licenses and/or register their bikes with the state. License and registration fees would help pay for bicycle infrastructure and ensure that all cyclists are adequately trained in correct riding techniques. Motorists like this idea because they think cyclists don’t pay for bike infrastructure and don’t obey traffic laws. Some cyclists like this idea because they think it will get them more respect from drivers and state institutions.

This idea has some merit but I’d like to take it one step further. I propose that all pedestrians should have to get walking licenses and register their shoes with the state DMV.

Lets face it, like bicyclists, pedestrians don’t get much respect from motorists and highway departments. The way motorists see it, pedestrians don’t pay for sidewalks and there are vast numbers of sidewalks in most American cities and towns. In motorists’ eyes, pedestrians also do dangerous things like jay walk or try to cross four-lane boulevards at intersections with no crosswalks or traffic lights.

Walking licenses and shoe registration fees could change all this. They would help pay for sidewalks and the license/registration process would ensure pedestrians get adequate training in correct and safe walking techniques from licensed professionals. At the age of one, infants would get “Conditional Learners Permits” that would allow them to walk if accompanied by a licensed adult. If a person is caught repeatedly jay walking, crossing against a red light or outside a designated crosswalk, their walking license could be suspended or revoked. If police discover that someone’s shoes are unregistered, they could be taken away and the person could be thrown in jail. All this would greatly reduce pedestrian crashes. It could also help revive the American economy because, once people lost their walking licenses, they’d be forced to buy cars and drive everywhere. Plus there’d be increased spending on new shoes and criminal defense attorneys.

I know, some of you are saying, “But Andy, most pedestrians are hit by cars because the cars don’t see them, often at night!” I’ve already thought of that. As part of the licensing and shoe registration procedure, I’d require that pedestrians have to wear bright, reflective clothing at all times and have shoes with lights in them, like little kids sometimes wear. I’d also require education programs that train pedestrians to be alert for cars at all moments in all situations, even inside offices, restaurants and homes.

Sure, motorists would still hit a few pedestrians, but they’d do it with more respect. Highway departments might even respect pedestrians enough to keep track of when, where and how they get hit by cars! Yes, we could ban right-turns-on-red, require more signage, pavement markings, signals and better lighting and traffic calming measures …but that would just slow down drivers, and we can’t slow down drivers, even for a minute, or our entire national economy will collapse.

Walking licenses and shoe registration would be good for pedestrians, good for drivers and good for the economy. Think about it!

Andy Singer

About Andy Singer

Andy Singer served as volunteer co-chair of the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition off and on for 13 years. He works as a professional cartoonist and illustrator and has authored four books including his last, "Why We Drive," which examines environmental, land use and political issues in transportation. You can see more of his cartoons at AndySinger.com.