California’s Freedom to Walk Act Will Reduce Inequitable Jaywalking Enforcement

And you can help push it across the finish line

Freedom to Walk Act will stop enforcing crossing the street like this

By Ben Crowther

California is on the verge of reducing inequitable jaywalking enforcement. The Freedom to Walk Act – a campaign organized by the California Bike Coalition – makes it legal for pedestrians in California to cross a street without traffic mid-block, has passed the California Senate. All it needs is Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature to become law. 

But Governor Newsom’s signature is far from given. Last year, the governor vetoed similar legislation, citing unfounded concerns for pedestrian safety. 

For decades, criminalizing walking has had little positive effect. Data shows that jaywalking citations do not improve safety for pedestrians. Instead, jaywalking laws have been enforced disproportionately against the Black and Brown residents of California, leading to heightened tensions with police. 

The Freedom to Walk Act

The Freedom to Walk Act: 

  • Decriminalizes safe, commonsense street crossing, when traffic permits, whether or not a pedestrian is within a marked/unmarked crosswalk.
  • Removes a pretext for over-policing that has disproportionately hurt Black and Latinx Californians.
  • Recognizes the rights of pedestrians to fair and equitable use of our public roadways.
  • Ends a traffic enforcement practice that places an undue financial burden on low-income residents through fines, fees, and penalties without increasing safety.

Join the members of the Freedom to Walk Act coalition and tell Governor Newsom to sign the bill into law. If you live in California, we urge you to take action now and America Walks made it easy to do so with just one click!

If this issue interests you, we invite you to check out a webinar we hosted in 2021 on decriminalizing walking.