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LAPD Asked To Explain Why They Give Dumb Tickets To Pedestrians

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Councilman Mike Bonin is not a fan of the 'crosswalk stings' which have been plaguing pedestrians with pricey tickets. He motioned on Friday to take another look at the practice, questioning its effectiveness. The LAPD has been handing out citations to pedestrians who start crossing the street after the countdown has begun. As anyone who has ever been a pedestrian probably knows, that doesn't make a lot of sense, especially with crosswalks that begin their countdowns with as many as 20 seconds. If anything, the number should be an indicator to a pedestrian as to whether or not they have enough time to completely and safely cross a street.

L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin said in a statement that "it defies common sense to ticket someone who is entering a crosswalk as the countdown begins when they still have time to cross the street safely without disrupting traffic," City News Service reports. He also believes that the tickets discourage people from walking—something L.A. already has a stigma about.

He also said that if there is going to be extra enforcement around crosswalks, the LAPD should be "focusing on busting drivers who don't yield to people in the crosswalk."

Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents downtown Los Angeles, seconded Bonin's motion. Now, the LAPD has been asked to report back to the City Council as to why they're issuing these tickets and what evidence they have that indicates the citations increase traffic and pedestrian safety.

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The crosswalk stings have been criticized heavily recently for being unfair, including in an article in the L.A. Times that revealed that the LAPD has issued over 17,000 citations in four years to pedestrians who have begun to cross during the flashing light. The bulk of these citations occur in downtown Los Angeles. The article highlights Eduardo Lopez, a 22-year-old college student who rushed across a crosswalk in the remaining ten seconds to catch his bus to class. He was issued a $197 ticket.

As Streetsblog pointed out, many of the most policed intersections are near Metro stations. Lopez received his ticket near the 7th St. Metro Station; other heavily monitored areas include Wilshire/Alvarado and Wilshire/Vermont. This means a lot of the most targeted pedestrians are likely low-income Metro. For a low-income Angeleno, a $200 ticket can be an unfair and damaging blow.

Bonin's motion notes that current state pedestrian laws were established in 1982, but have "not kept pace with the changing utilization of our public streets, the increased use of our public sidewalks and more modern technologies such as the flashing red countdown signal."