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Ticketing Pedestrians & Drivers, It Goes Both Ways

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Photo by striatic via Flickr

Unfortunately, in a city (and country) where the motto should be "pedestrians first," things are just the opposite of that. The law states that vehicles must yield to pedestrians at marked and unmarked crossings throughout the state. But the culture is not that and one can prove that to themselves by trying to cross any busy street at an unmarked crosswalk (or even a marked one in some areas). It's not just regular denizens too: DASH and Metro busses, LAPD squad cars, city cars and others can be easily caught breaking this law. The first step to making a safer environment for pedestrians is to walk the talk. How can the city write a ticket for not yielding to a pedestrian when they do it themselves?

On the other side of things, today, both StreetsblogLA and Curbed LA are reporting recent pedestrian stings, most recently near the 7th Metro Station downtown. These stings are to bust not motorists, but pedestrians illegally crossing against the red hand.

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"Tickets, which were given to pedestrians even if they made it safely across the street before the flashing signal became a solid one," wrote StreetsblogLA editor Damien Newton. But the law doesn't provide a flexible "if you make it" clause. Nor does it offer an "if you're old and too slow" clause, as proven when an elderly person was ticketed for crossing too slowly two years ago (luckily the judge threw the citation out, but should it even get to that point?).

LAist (under the auspices as a NC councilman) posed this question to Transportation Committee Chair, Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, at a Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council meeting earlier this month -- paraphrased, we said, "if local government employees are not yielding to pedestrians when they're supposed to by law, how are regular citizens supposed to know to follow this law?" She danced around the question never talking to the point, rather talking about pedestrians crossing illegally at the signal. Greuel has been a successful champion of traffic issues in the past, but her recent record for "people first" proposals as a transportation chair has been less than stellar. Culture is not easy to change, but it can start with someone who is held in high regards by the majority of people in this city and Greuel has that advantage.

Meanwhile, walking downtown on a one-way street is still not easy if you're walking against traffic on the sidewalk: street signs telling you what cross street you're at seem to only face the direction of street travel. Apparently, pedestrians should only walk in one direction on downtown streets.