Jaywalking Decriminalized in California

Another day, another historic planning-related bill signed into law in the Golden State.

Read Time: 2 minutes

October 4, 2022, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


A crosswalk activation button is shown in the foreground with two pedestrians show blurred while crossing the street in the background.

Dogora Sun / Shutterstock

In 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill, AB 1238, that would have decriminalized jaywalking in the state, in a major setback for the cause of making streets safer for noon-vehicular modes of transportation.  

In 2022, Gov. Newsom signed a similar bill—AB 2147, also known as “The Freedom to Walk Act,” authored by the same state legislator, Assembly Member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). The law takes effect of January 1, 2023.

Colleenn Shalby reports on the new law for the Los Angeles Times:

Under the new law, pedestrians would be able to legally cross the street outside of designated intersections without the threat of a hefty citation “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.”

Shalby notes that jaywalking laws grew out of auto industry lobbying in the early 20th century—one of the most obvious signs of the growing car-centric planning and automobile dependence that continues to dominate the American built environment.

Data shows that jaywalking laws in the 21st century have disparate impacts for low-income individuals and people of color. “Data cited by Ting’s office from the California Racial and Identity Profiling Act shows that Black Californians are up to 4.5 times more likely to be stopped for jaywalking than those who are white,” writes Shaby.

The governor’s signature on AB 2147 follows shortly after the ink dried on two other historically significant planning reforms: AB 2097, which remove parking requirements near transit stops, and AB 2011, which made affordable housing developments on commercially zoned properties legal by right.

Saturday, October 1, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

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