For Immediate Release: 9/8/21
CalBike: Jared Sanchez, firstname.lastname@example.org | 714-262-0921
California Walks: Caro Jauregui, email@example.com | 562-320-2139
Los Angeles Walks: John Yi, firstname.lastname@example.org | 213-219-2483
CA Freedom to Walk Act Passes Senate
SACRAMENTO – The Freedom to Walk Act, a bill designed to reform California’s “Jaywalking” laws, passed the California Senate today with a vote of 22-8.
AB 1238, which would make it legal for pedestrians in California to cross mid-block provided they don’t interfere with traffic, was authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco. CalBike and a coalition of more than 90 groups and individuals support the repeal of ‘jaywalking’ laws.
AB 1238 will not change existing laws that require pedestrians to avoid potentially hazardous situations on the roadway. Instead, it legalizes the safe street crossings that pedestrians make every day. Everybody ‘jaywalks’—nobody should be penalized for a safe street crossing.
Jared Sanchez, CalBike Senior Policy Advocate, said, “CalBike applauds the Senate for supporting this crucial legislation to make California’s streets safer and more accessible for everyone. We will now work with Governor Newsom to secure his support for the freedom to walk.”
Inequities in neighborhood design leave lower-income neighborhoods less pedestrian-friendly than others. Because of this, policing jaywalking often amounts to punishing people for the lack of government services and improper land use planning in their community. People should not be penalized for decades of infrastructure neglect and auto-first street design. AB 1238 will help protect vulnerable pedestrians against racially biased, pretextual policing, inequitable fees and fines, and unnecessary and potentially lethal interactions with law enforcement.
“The Freedom to Walk Act legalizes safe walking,” Sanchez said. “Governor Newsom now has a chance to advance racial justice by repealing jaywalking laws. In the absence of safe and accessible pedestrian infrastructure, residents do their best to access school, work, grocery stores, or parks. Continuing to criminalize rational, predictable responses to poor infrastructure is unjust,”
Also, enforcing low-level infractions, like ‘jaywalking,’ can have a substantial cost for law enforcement. So, decriminalizing safe street crossings has the potential to conserve considerable resources for agencies across the state.
The Freedom to Walk Act WILL NOT:
- Make it legal to obstruct traffic or endanger other road users.
- Send crowds of pedestrians into the streets. People who walk have the same common sense and desire for self-preservation as anyone else. Pedestrians will continue to do what they already do: assess traffic conditions and cross when it’s safe to do so.
- Lead to increased hazards for walkers. Reckless driving and unfriendly infrastructure are the main dangers that pedestrians face. There is no evidence that jaywalking laws help pedestrians and the laws do nothing to solve those problems.
- Take money from local coffers. Many jaywalking fines are never collected, so the cost of police and administrative time for enforcement is often higher than the money collected.
The Freedom to Walk Act WILL:
- Legalize common, safe street crossings that most Californians make regularly.
- Reduce potentially lethal police interactions for Black Californians.
- Free low-income people from the financial burden of jaywalking fines and fees.
- Allow police officers to spend their time more effectively, increasing public safety.