Everyone 'Jaywalks,' But Black Pedestrians Are Cited At Much Higher Rates. Now California Could 'Decriminalize Walking'

Publication: LAist

I’ll come clean with you: I’m a law breaker, and I break it regularly.

In the last offense I remember (honestly, I do it so often I can’t recall every instance), I walked to buy something from a store down the street from my home. Then I hit a snag: I’m mid-block, the store is directly across the street, but I would have to walk a few minutes in each direction to get to a crosswalk.

.... A bill passed this week by the California legislature aims to reduce those inequities and largely decriminalize jaywalking by allowing pedestrians more leeway to cross the road.

... State Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) authored the bill. One of its key goals, according to a press release: “Preventing police from using jaywalking as a pretext to stop Black and Brown people, especially since under-resourced neighborhoods often lack adequate crossing infrastructure.”

“What we really want to do is decriminalize walking in California… [and] eliminate the arbitrary enforcement when people are just simply crossing the street in a safe manner,” Ting said.

The assemblymember noted that pedestrians who make blatantly dangerous moves into roadways would still be subject to enforcement.

Ting also argued the cost of a jaywalking citation “becomes a disincentive to walk,” especially for low-income Californians.