For Immediate Release: 8/27/21
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
Freedom to Walk Act Moves to Senate Floor Vote
SACRAMENTO – The Freedom to Walk Act, a bill designed to reform California’s “Jaywalking” laws, passed out of the California Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, on a 5-2 vote.
The bill AB 1238, would make it legal for pedestrians in California to cross mid-block provided they don’t interfere with traffic. The bill was authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco. CalBike and a coalition of more than 85 groups and individuals support the repeal of jaywalking laws.
Jared Sanchez, CalBike Senior Policy Advocate said, “The State Senate and Governor now have 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. At times, this may involve jaywalking. Continuing to criminalize rational, predictable responses to poor infrastructure is unjust.”
The Bill would not change existing law that already requires pedestrians to avoid potentially hazardous situations on the roadway. Instead, it will protect vulnerable pedestrians against racially biased, pretextual policing; inequitable fees and fines; unnecessary, and potentially lethal, interactions with law enforcement.
By decriminalizing safe-street crossings, the bill will reduce unnecessary police enforcement of jaywalking. Enforcing low-level infractions, like jaywalking, can have a substantial cost for law enforcement. Given this, decriminalizing safe street crossings has the potential to conserve substantial resources for agencies across the state.
Punishing the Poor for Bad Street Design
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.
There is no evidence that jaywalking laws keep people safe. In fact, we know that these laws make many Californians unsafe by exposing them to pretextual policing and unnecessary encounters with law enforcement. California is in the process of reforming its laws regarding the use of public spaces. Several categories of infractions have already been eliminated in recent years at the state level, including vending without a permit and possession of marijuana. It’s time to add jaywalking to this list.