The Lunatic-in-Chief?
Massachusetts Attempts Near-Universal Health Coverage

The Crime of Being Old

The shock! The anger! Yes, the rage! Crabby Old Lady can barely control her apoplexy.

On 15 February 2006, 82-year-old Mayvis Coyle was ticketed by a Los Angeles cop for “obstructing the flow of traffic.” Her infraction? Walking too slowly. And listen to this:

“Sgt. Mike Zaboski of the Valley Traffic Division said he couldn’t comment on Coyle’s ticket, that it was her word against the officer who cited her - identified as Officer Kelly - as to whether she entered the crosswalk on green.

“’Right now, pedestrian accidents are above normal,’ he said Friday. ‘We’re looking out for pedestrians - people who think they have carte blanche in crossing the street.’” [emphasis added]

- LA Daily News, 10 April 2006

Crabby Old Lady nearly burst a blood vessel when she read this story. Those two cops are, in her book, nasty, evil, ageist halfwits who should be condemned to walk the rest of their lives with beans in their shoes.

Ms. Coyle was slapped with a $114 ticket for no other crime than being old. Councilwoman Wendy Greuet doesn’t like it either, but her tepid response is to request a study from transportation officials on how to accommodate elders who dare to walk in Los Angeles - the land the almighty automobile.

“The Coyle incident ‘has brought to bear an issue that is relatively common,’ Greuet said, ‘We should look at those areas with predominantly seniors and accommodate their needs at intersections.’”
- LA Daily News, 10 April 2006

“Areas with predominantly seniors?” Elders are likely to be in any place people of any other age are likely to be. What’s next? Crabby wants to know, confining elders to limited sections of town? Why not just set up concentration camps for elders so no one’s hellbent need for speed is thwarted? Even dogs are granted more leeway in the street.

Ageism is usually more subtle than this. Most people better cloak their distaste for elders than these two police officers and the councilmember. This is no amusing, little traffic incident. It reveals a city government’s official policy against the needs of elders.

Crabby Old Lady expects the good citizens of Los Angeles to rise up in large numbers and demand the extension of green light timing so people of all ages (how about the disabled, those temporarily on crutches, even kids?) can get across the street safely.

[Hat tip to Always Question for pointing out this story.]


The US is I am afraid the country that tells every one else about liberty, but it is the US also that seems to generate stories like this.

It is a dreadful story on two counts - first that this cop sat and watched an old woman struggling across the street and according to the official line, putting herself in danger, without moving his a*** (I'm British - we spell it differently) to help and then to compound his crass behaviour hands her a ticket.

It seems to me that one of the root causes of theis attitude is the long standing US attitude to public services. Because workers in the public sector are seen as scroungers off the public purse, they have no standing and are given no discretion - I can't imagine police in the UK ever giving out a ticket like this.

An elderly woman in the town where I live used to regularly go to the next town some 6 miles away to see her friend, riding on her electric scooter (cart). Sometimes the battery failed, sometimes the police stopped her because she was genuinely a road hazard on narrow english country roads, but so far as I can tell she was never booked and the police took it all in good humour.

I think this is more than ageism - I think it is an indicator of a general callousness of those whose job is supposedly to be in the public service.

What is the slogan? - 'Protect and Serve' - protecting thir own and serving their own interests it seems.

"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more" should be the reciprocal slogan - get out there on carts, with child buggies (strollers?), zimmer frames and reclaim the streets.

The story is still getting air time this morning.
The other day the LAPD officer was saying she had stepped from the curb too soon. Now they say she stepped from the curb after the red hand came up. Either way, it's her word against the officer... and I've been there.
Foothill doesn't have a median. I've had to cross streets using one light to get to the median and one light to get to the far curb, but she and others don't have that option... it's a 7-second sprint.
The teen-ager reading the news on KABC thought the story rated a giggle so I'm off to find another morning news show.

Again I say, "Read 'What Are Old People For? (How Elders Will Save The World)' by William Thomas."
"Limited sections of town"? Go to any leisure village.
Beating up the USA on this one is ridiculous. The problem is alive and well all over the globe. Remember all the elders that died in France because of the heat wave? Elders are not being accomodated in a meanigful way within the fabric of their own society.

Courtesy towards elders seems still to be part of the Hispanic culture. It's not only because health care lower level jobs are shunned by many more middle class citizens that they are increasingly filled by Hispanics who treat elders lovingly and with patience when they are needy, but also when they are up and about like the woman in this shocking incident. Now, aren't there some stories about elders hassled while driving? New Yorkers are more considerate, too, maybe because it's primarily a city of pedestrians except for tourists in taxis, the wealthy in limos, and delivery trucks.

What a sorry state of affairs we have come to Ronni. Shameful.

I too, am shocked at the action of the police and will make no excuse for them. Concentration Camps for the elderly . . . we don't need them in California. We have numrsing homes that are apalling beyond description.

This is shameful at best.

At least she's WALKING! How many more articles do we need to see about obesity in the young in this country and the onset of type 2 diabetes in those children/young adults.

I'm 48. I was taught the pedestrian always has the right of way regardless of the green traffic signal. I am teaching my children the same.


I had read about this incident and I agree it is maddening. I have first hand knowledge of this problem here in Atlanta. Our townhouse community is just off a busy main street where it is hard enough to get out via automobile much less crossing as a pedestrian. About a block down from the entrance to the complex there is a major intersection with traffic lights, turn signals, the whole 9 yards. No attention is given there to pedestrians. I had rather play russian roulette with a fully loaded gun than cross that intersection. Across the street there is a major grocery store, an upscale restaurant, a hardware store, deli, Starbucks etc.

But drive I must.

As soon as that case got to a judge I think there would be a long, long lecture to said policeman. Judges get rather angry when crap like this comes their way.

How, funny and odd. I just commented on this same thing. It reminded me of the funny video that a blog friend linked for you on your birthday. They WISH they could put us some where...but we WON'T let them!

I agree with all of you, especially the first commenter Ian. Disgraceful!

Glad to finally get the bigger picture of this L.A. story.

From the sound bite stories I've caught on some of our various L.A. TV news shows, they seem to treat this more as a light-hearted human interest story, possibly good for a chuckle or two, or, like a Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

Am not detecting any sense of outrage in the TV news broadcasts on behalf of elders, others unable to leap 4 feet in l sec. (that's what one Dept. of Transportation official was quoted as saying was the timer speed set for crossing the street.)

Makes me think we should all be checking with our own local officials to see whether our crossing lights are set to insure pedestrian safety.

Heaven forbid any motorist should have to sit a few seconds longer at a crossing, just so elders, women with strollers and young children in tow, others, could safely reach the other side of the street.

When a pedestrian enters a crosswalk, they don't always know how long the walk sign has been on. Have seen a number stranded in the median 'til the light changes again; heard others say that no matter when they enter the crosswalk, they expect to spend time on the median strip and make no effort to cross the full length of the blvd.

I'm talking only a four lane blvd. like the Foothill Blvd. (the famed old U.S. Route 66.) I can only imagine what crossing must be like on some of these even wider multi-lane streets we have not only in L.A. and surrounding areas, but many other cities in many other states.

Many years ago my aunt died in just such an accident in Detroit. She was in her early sixties, not frail, was still working, but probably didn't move quite as fast as when she was a lot younger. Ended up being a hit and run with the perp never caught.

Are all these people like my aunt, and the older woman who prompted this blog, required to endure such experiences as the cost of living in a vehicle society? Are they just expendable, candidates for the fatality statistics? Surely they and we, all deserve more accommodation.

An older woman was killed on Geary Blvd. in San Francisco in one of these situations. I think we managed to get either longer lights or more lights by jacking up the local authorities. There's an outfit in SF, Walk San Francisco, that organizes people of all ages to agitate for improved conditions of walking on the streets. One of the things they do that is politically smart is get together with the cyclists against the car imperative.

Mayvis Coyle's ticket was given to her by Officer Kelly, the same officer that gave my 15 year old son a ticket for riding his bicycle against a 'don't walk' sign. Officer Kelly apparently isn't aware that according to the vehicle code, bicyclists are not pedestrians. I don't feel comfortable commenting further regarding either Mayvis Coyle or my son, as I expect to be seeing Officer Kelly in court when my son pleads not guilty.
Al Levey

Crabby Old Lady expects the good citizens of Los Angeles to rise up in large numbers and demand the extension of green light timing so people of all ages (how about the disabled, those temporarily on crutches, even kids?) can get across the street safely.

I'm with you, Crabby Old Lady? I mean, WTF!? Man, that's all I have to say.

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