Californians will soon be able to cross the street outside of a formal intersection without being ticketed – as long as it’s safe to do so.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Freedom to Walk Act into law on Friday, according to a news release from Assemblymember Phil Ting, who wrote the bill.
The law stipulates that pedestrians can only be ticketed for jaywalking – or crossing outside of an intersection – if there is “immediate danger of a collision,” says the release.
The new law will take effect on January 1.
In the release, Ting seemed to reference racist policing and the unfair targeting of Black pedestrians for jaywalking arrests.
“It should not be a criminal offense to safely cross the street. 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,” said Ting.
“Plus, we should be encouraging people to get out of their cars and walk for health and environmental reasons.”
According to the release, jaywalking is “arbitrarily enforced” in California, and disproportionately affects “people of color and lower-income individuals who cannot afford tickets that can often total hundreds of dollars.”
In 2020, protests erupted when an Orange County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Kurt Reinhold, a homeless Black man, after stopping him for allegedly jaywalking. Prosecutors eventually declined to bring charges against the deputy who shot Reinhold.