Countdown Crossing May Soon Be Legal

A countdown-style crosswalk, which informs pedestrians of how much time they have left to cross.

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar voiced his support today for state legislation that would allow pedestrians to cross a street even if the crosswalk countdown has already begun.

The current jaywalking law was written when flashing red signals alone were instituted, and does not reflect modern crossing signals, which include a countdown, according to Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, author of AB 390. As a result, it is currently illegal for a pedestrian to step into a crosswalk after the red hand starts, even if there is sufficient time to safely cross.

A Los Angeles Times investigation found that 17,000 people in the city were ticketed over a four-year period for stepping off the curb after the countdown had started.

“In downtown Los Angeles, Council District 14 and throughout the city of Los Angeles, we are leading the way with complete streets initiatives and policies that allow us to prepare for a new Los Angeles,” said Huizar, who introduced a resolution the City Council passed in May in support of AB 390.

“We are in the midst of a momentous shift when it comes to increasing pedestrian uses and space and our antiquated state crosswalk law has not kept pace with the city of Los Angeles goals in downtown and elsewhere,” Huizar said. “AB 390 addresses the concerns that downtown residents expressed to my office and led to us sponsoring a City Council resolution calling on the state for a change in the law, and we join our constituents in advocating for full state legislative support of AB 390.”

The bill, which was approved in May by the Assembly Transportation Committee, would make it legal to proceed across a crosswalk during a flashing countdown signal as long as the pedestrian completes the crossing before the display of the steady “Don’t Walk” or “Wait” or “upraised hand” symbol when the countdown ends.

AB 390 was introduced by Santiago after Huizar authored a 2016 City Council resolution calling on the state to update the crosswalk laws.

“I don’t believe pedestrians should be preyed upon just to fill local coffers,” Santiago said in May. “AB 390 encourages and reinforces pedestrian-friendly communities like downtown Los Angeles.”

According to Santiago, other states and cities have passed similar legislation and there is no evidence of an increased safety risk to pedestrians as a result of those laws.

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