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These Politicians Want To Fix California's 'Antiquated' Jaywalking Law

(Photo by Andy Kennelly via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Many of L.A.'s traffic laws go unheeded on a daily basis, but one of the city's more arcane strictures—Section 21456 of the California Vehicle Code, which makes it illegal for pedestrians to step onto a crosswalk at any point after its flashing countdown begins—may be on its last legs.

On Wednesday, L.A. City Councilman José Huizar joined State Assemblyman Miguel Santiago to push for A.B. 390, a bill that would allow pedestrians to cross without penalty even if the crosswalk countdown has already started. In other words, you'll no longer be penalized for crossing the street, so long as you reach the other side by the time the steady "Don't Walk" sign appears. Yes, it's ridiculous that this isn't already a thing, particularly because the current law was written when crosswalk countdowns weren't even in use yet, and the only thing governing the flow of pedestrian traffic at crosswalks was a flashing red light.

Pedestrian-rights advocates have argued against the obscurity of the no-crossing law, which has led to what Curbed called "the dumbest jaywalking tickets" given out in Los Angeles over the past few years. A 2015 LA Times article estimated that 17,000 such jaywalking tickets were given out in downtown L.A. over a four-year span, with the average fine totaling $197. Santiago, the bill's co-author, said in a statement on Wednesday, "Pedestrians shouldn't be preyed upon just to fill local coffers."

A.B. 390 is scheduled to appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 21, a representative from Assemblyman Santiago's office told LAist; if this bill passes through the Senate floor, L.A. could stand a chance at rivaling New York in walkability factor. (Okay, no, it won't, but at least walking around downtown might get marginally easier. We'll take it.)