Jaywalking is decriminalized in California under new law

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Pedestrians take note: A new law decriminalizes safe jaywalking in California.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed the “Freedom to Walk” bill sponsored by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). The law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, comes years after activists have argued that jaywalking rules disproportionately affect marginalized and low-income residents.

Under the new law, pedestrians would be able to legally cross the street outside of designated intersections without the threat of a hefty citation “unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power.”

Jaywalking laws were enacted in the 1930s as the auto industry emerged. Though technically prohibited throughout the country, ticketing is less common in many major cities such as Boston or New York. That has not been the case in much of California.

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