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Illegal to jaywalk, but ...

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Illegal to jaywalk, but ...

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
September 16, 2012

Yesterday motorists almost played Dodge-'em Cars in Harvard at the intersection of Routes 173 and 14, as Harmilda looked on. You know who Harmilda is; right? Harvard's Milk Days' cow.

So, what was all the ruckus about?

It seems that fundraisers were in the roadway yesterday, looking for hand-outs (donations) as drivers passed through town.

Some would say it should be illegal to stand in the roadway and solicit money. And, indeed, it should be. With the death toll on Illinois roadways at 680, the State and local law enforcement should be doing everything possible to ensure driver and pedestrian safety.

Yet our esteemed legislators, in their infinite wisdom, have actually passed a law that allows solicitors to be IN the roadway to collect money.

So, what was going on in Harvard yesterday? Solicitors were standing on the center line of the two-lane roadway with the hands and arms out to allow drivers to dump coins and dollars in the containers they held out. Usually, solicitors get out of the roadway when the light turns green and traffic moves.

That wasn't the case yesterday. On one green-light cycle, traffic began to move, when suddenly the driver of a 4x4 decided to be a "good citizen" and stop to donate. A woman driver, described as being in "dreamland" and clearly expecting traffic to keep rolling on the green cycle, ran up on the back of the car in front of her and slammed on her brakes, coming within inches of causing a chain-reaction, rear-end set of collisions.

What's the law? Are solicitors required to clear the roadway when traffic has a green light? Do cops ever warn solicitors?

I can hear the screams already. "It's for a good cause." "They need the money." "People should be careful." What if one of Harvard's Finest had stopped by and told the solicitors to get out of the roadway when the light turns green?

First thing Monday (or sooner) a businessman who is the head of Rotary or Kiwanis or (fill in the name of the charity) would call Mayor Nolan, who would call Policy Chief Kazy-Garey, who would summon the officer to demand to know what the (fill in the blank) he thought he was doing.

If you disagree with this Illinois law, contact your State legislator this week and let him know that you want that law repealed.

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