Advertisement

L.A. lawmakers question police ticketing of pedestrians in crosswalks

As the light flashes red, a pedestrian dashes along the crosswalk at Hope Street and 7th Street in downtown Los Angeles.
As the light flashes red, a pedestrian dashes along the crosswalk at Hope Street and 7th Street in downtown Los Angeles.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Two Los Angeles City Council members want more information about where and why pedestrians are ticketed for stepping into a crosswalk after the signal light’s red hand is flashing, saying there are questions about whether the rules truly make people safer.

The Times recently reported that police have cited four times as many pedestrians for that offense in the division that includes downtown than elsewhere in the city.

The tickets irritate some downtown pedestrians who see them as a sign that the city is still biased in favor of the automobile, even as its urban core sometimes swarms with people walking from block to block.

A City Council motion presented by Councilman Mike Bonin and seconded by Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents much of downtown, called the vehicle code behind the tickets “one of many existing state laws that has not kept pace with the changing utilization of our public streets.”

Advertisement

Bonin and Huizar want the Los Angeles Police Department to report back on the reasons and evidence for enforcing the rule, why tickets aren’t issued “with some level of discretion,” and statistics on the number of tickets issued in different parts of the city.

In an interview Friday, Bonin said he would probably seek to loosen local enforcement of the rules or push to change state law if needed.

Government should be “off people’s backs and on people’s sides,” he said, and “the idea of ticketing people while the countdown clock is going seems like government on your back.”

The two lawmakers also asked the transportation department to comment on whether the ticketing helps or hurts the city’s goal of eliminating traffic fatalities by 2025. Their request now heads to a council committee focused on public safety.

Advertisement

Huizar also introduced a motion Friday that would expand a program that times the lights so pedestrians have a head start on crossing before any traffic moves, bringing it to intersections across downtown.

The idea was among a batch of proposals that Huizar introduced Friday as part of his new “DTLA Forward” initiative to improve traffic flow, pedestrian access and neighborhood connectivity downtown, including proposals to reevaluate street configuration and create green alleys.

Times staff writer Catherine Saillant contributed to this report.

Follow @latimesemily for what’s happening at Los Angeles City Hall

Advertisement


Advertisement