SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Assemblyman Phil Ting’s (D-San Francisco) legislation to decriminalize jaywalking has headed to the governor’s desk after passing both branches of the state legislature.
“Safely crossing the street should not be a criminal offense. When expensive tickets and unnecessary confrontations with police impact only certain communities, it’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians,” Ting, who represents San Francisco’s westside, stated in a press release. “In addition, we should be encouraging people to get out of their cars and walk for health and environmental reasons.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has until Sept. 30 to act on the legislation, which is Ting’s second attempt to decriminalize jaywalking.
If signed, law enforcement will no longer be able to cite pedestrians for jaywalking when there is no oncoming traffic. A press release from Ting’s office states that citations are “disproportionately given to people of color and lower-income individuals who cannot afford tickets that often total hundreds of dollars.”
“Jaywalking laws do more than turn an ordinary and logical behavior into a crime; they also create opportunities for police to racially profile,” Jared Sanchez, senior policy advocate for CalBike, states. “A jaywalking ticket can turn into a potentially life-threatening police encounter, especially for Black people, who are disproportionately targeted and suffer the most severe consequences of inequitable law enforcement.”
Jaywalking laws were first passed in the 1930s after pedestrian deaths soared after cars became widespread.
If Newsom signs the bill, it won’t have been the first legal change for Golden State pedestrians in recent years; in 2018, it became legal for people to cross the street after the countdown meter began flashing.