Jaywalking is Now Decriminalized in California Thanks to ‘Freedom to Walk’ Bill

Californians can walk wherever they please, according to a new California bill.

Last Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the “Freedom to Walk” bill sponsored by Phil Ting (Assemblyman D – San Fransisco). Currently, pedestrians face a ticket if the cross the street outside of designated areas, and also if they don’t finish their crossing before the countdown signal flashes. Ticketing in some areas of California has gotten out of hand.

Under the new law, pedestrians can officially cross the street outside of designated crosswalks without worry of a hefty citation. The bill adds people can cross “unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power.”

Ting explained in a statement, “It should not be a criminal offense to safely cross the street. When expensive tickets and unnecessary confrontations with police impact only certain communities, it’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether or jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians. Plus, we should be encouraging people to get out of their cars and walk for health and environmental reasons.”

The new law takes effect January 1, 2023, and comes after years of efforts by activists who claim that jaywalking rules disproportionately affect marginalized and low-income citizens. Data cited by Assemblyman Ting suggests that Black Californians are 4.5 times more likely to be stopped for jaywalking than their white counterparts.



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