Jaywalking Up for Decriminalization in Denver

Like other city and state leaders, Denver’s city council will weigh a proposal to decriminalize jaywalking in an effort to reduce interactions with law enforcement and improve transportation equity.

Read Time: 2 minutes

September 13, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Pedestrian advocates in Denver, Colorado are pushing the city to decriminalize jaywalking, which is not illegal in most of the state. As Conor McCormick-Cavanagh writes in Westword, “State law does prohibit pedestrians from jaywalking when they're between two traffic control lights; in those cases, they need to pick one of the crosswalks.”

Advocates say pedestrians should be able to cross streets mid-block, when conditions are safe, and that jaywalking citations overwhelmingly impact some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. Jacob Smith, the Denver-based senior director for National Organizations for Youth Safety, said, “It’s a no-brainer for us to be able to, one, stop unnecessary interactions between law enforcement, but then also make our laws and streets more accessible for many folks who are not just walking...[but] rolling on the streets as well.” Advocates in other parts of the country have used similar arguments to support decriminalization.

According to City Council President Jamie Torres, “We just don’t want this to be an enforcement priority. A lot of the really terrible accidents that occur and terrible deaths that occur, they’re still at intersections. This isn’t really something that puts more people at risk in my district when it comes to street safety.”

Three city councilmembers are working to introduce a measure to the council in the next two months. According to the article, “The policy shift would also make it legal for people in wheelchairs to use the street when a sidewalk is too damaged or obstructed to use.”

Thursday, September 8, 2022 in Westword

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