On May 3, 2021, CalBike co-hosted a national panel discussion on decriminalizing jaywalking. Leading academics, advocates, and legislators discussed local efforts to end the enforcement of jaywalking. They shared lessons learned and steps to success.
CalBike has joined a surging national movement to repeal unjust jaywalking laws by co-sponsoring the Freedom to Walk Act (AB 1238, Ting). More and more cities and states are rethinking rules that criminalize walking. From Virginia to California to Kansas City, decriminalizing jaywalking is no longer a radical idea but an increasingly viable policy proposal.
The discussion included:
- Nine reasons to decriminalize jaywalking from Charles Brown of Equitable Cities
- Michael Kelley on how BikeWalkKC used a review of the municipal code ordered by Kansas City’s mayor as an opening for decriminalizing mobility
- Writer Angie Schmitt on shifting the responsibility for safety from individuals to system designers
- And much, much more
You can watch the full presentation here:
These national efforts highlight the need to protect vulnerable pedestrians against racially biased, pretextual policing, inequitable fees and fines, and unnecessary and potentially lethal interactions with law enforcement. More and more cities, counties, and states are considering repealing jaywalking laws. And the movement to ensure that safe and accessible walking is a key component of a sustainable transportation system continues to grow stronger.
Kansas City becomes the first to repeal jaywalking laws
Since our national discussion, Kansas City, MO, became the first city in the country to repeal its jaywalking laws. This repeal followed strong efforts from BikeWalkKC. We hope that CalBike’s campaign will make California the first state to decriminalize jaywalking statewide.
Eliminating jaywalking laws is an important step towards a more just society. Protests following George Floyd’s murder by a police officer led to a movement to re-examine the role of policing in our communities. As part of this reflection, jurisdictions began to look at discriminatory enforcement of jaywalking laws. Examination of jaywalking citations in Kansas City clearly showed that Black pedestrians were disproportionately targeted. The City Council’s repeal removes a tool for biased policing.
CalBike is committed to reforming traffic laws to reduce inequities and racially biased policing. Eliminating laws against jaywalking is an essential step toward this goal. By co-sponsoring the Freedom to Walk Act, we hope to end the enforcement of unjust jaywalking laws in California. At the same time, this will facilitate healthy and safe travel modes that are necessary to meet California’s environmental goals.