No fines for walking while texting

Despite rumors to the contrary, city police are not going to start handing out tickets to people who text while walking.

Although the idea apparently sounds good to some folks, the police wouldn't even have the authority to do so.

Word that texting-while-walking had become a punishable offense spread thanks to a city educational program called "Give Respect, Get Respect," designed to make drivers, bikers and pedestrians more aware of each other's safety needs.

During the campaign, police will give warnings and citations to drivers who talk on cellphones and cyclists who bike on the sidewalks, but pedestrians would face only a reminder from police to be more careful, according to the mayor's office.

A number of news outlets erroneously reported today that texting while walking would result in a $120 fine, setting off something of an internet buzz and drawing a quick response from the administration to tamp down the story.

Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter, even fired off a sharp response to Max Read, a writer from Gawker who reported the misinformation and mockingly suggested execution would be a more appropriate form of punishment.

"Your whack job reporter can spin his puerile fantasies about doing violence to people he does not like, but he first needs to get his facts straight. Indeed, Max might want to do a little READING before he writes," McDonald wrote.

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