Governor Brown Signs Bill: No More Tickets for Crossing on Countdown

Pedestrians will now be legally permitted to enter a crosswalk after the countdown has started. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog
Pedestrians will now be legally permitted to enter a crosswalk after the countdown has started. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

Now that the legislation session is over, Governor Brown has a huge pile of bills he must either sign or veto. Among the many bills he signed yesterday is the crosswalk countdown bill from Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). A.B. 390 makes it clear that pedestrians are allowed to enter a crosswalk while a countdown signal is flashing.

The LAPD, for one, has issued thousands of tickets to pedestrians who start crossing after a countdown has begun. They will no longer be able to do that when the law takes effect in January—but if they’re smart, they’ll stop immediately.

Note that this new bill applies only to countdown signals, which are usually accompanied by a flashing hand. If there is no countdown, current law still maintains that a pedestrian cannot enter the intersection once the hand or “don’t walk” signal begins flashing.

Countdown signals are becoming more prevalent as cities replace old signals. They work because they give pedestrians a better idea how much time they have to cross a street, and they can be calibrated to suit any particular crosswalk. But the old ones without countdowns are still very common—so cross carefully.

More background here.

  • Drew Levitt

    FYI the commenter to whom I am responding (shown currently as “roymeo” without a custom photo) is actually a troll’s alternate account. Please disregard.

    Also, Disqus, please feel free to take stronger measures to curb this kind of abuse! Multiple, anonymous, private accounts only make it that much easier for a handful of bad seeds to sow strife on well-intentioned comment boards.

  • User_1

    You guys have the Sorriest Bus Stop Contest. Why wasn’t there the Sorriest Law Contest?

    I nominate this law, but looks like we gotta work fast to get this to be our best.

  • Harris

    You mean just like cyclists do?

  • John Murphy

    “land of oblivious, entitled, inconsiderate, rude people”

    reading your comment, it would appear you came to this conclusion by looking in the mirror

  • Derek Hofmann

    “A pedestrian can be ticketed if they’re still in the crosswalk when the count reaches zero. Is that not reasonable and fair?” Not when cars can be in the intersection when the light turns red and not be ticketed!

  • Derek Hofmann

    Instead of a yellow phase, pedestrians have two red phases (flashing “Don’t Walk” and solid “Don’t Walk”). The new legislation finally gives them a yellow phase. What’s wrong with that?

  • thielges

    A pedestrian can be ticketed if they’re still in the crosswalk when the count reaches zero. Is that not reasonable and fair?

    The previous rule was that the pedestrian could not enter the crosswalk after the red flashing hand started. The timing of entering is just a proxy for the timing of exiting the crosswalk, which is the only event that is important for safety. Countdown timers make it possible to accurately know when the pedestrian must exit the crosswalk, which is not possible with the non-countdown signals.

  • tsw

    What idiots to think that people are really going to adequately judge they can make it across or even care! Now they have the option to defend a ticket saying they thought they could make it. Who can prove the pedestrian just didn’t give a crap. They should’ve changed the countdown to the walk period. Once the red comes up STOP!! no well if I can make it across I can go. Now not only will the pedestrians be more at risk of getting hit by a car, but traffic will back up because the cars have to wait until after the signal is red to be able to turn.

  • Mark Kawasaki

    @Mike Jones: Yes, they are behaving irresponsibly as they are crossing during the countdown and that won’t be legal until January.

  • *Gasp!*

  • Because lib’rul.

  • Mike Jones

    The traffic signal already takes away pedestrians’ rights to cross at any intersection and have the right-of-way….

  • …on red without yielding to pedestrians as they have always had to do.

  • thielges

    On really busy streets with high car and pedestrian volumes sometimes a Japanese style pedestrian scramble phase is the best solution.

  • farazs

    Guess what, some people are considerate and others are not! That is regardless of whether they happen to be walking or driving. Don’t put the onus of courtesy on pedestrians, for what is obviously bad traffic engineering. If there is enough pedestrian traffic to block turns, then they should get separate turn phases … as long as that time comes out of the proportion already allocated to vehicular traffic and not by lengthening the entire cycle for every one.

  • tootthefirst

    Wrong. If you consult the DMV Manual you’ll see that it clearly states that pedestrians must proceed in a “timely fashion” when using the crosswalk to get from one corner to the next. If not, they are subject to being cited.

  • farazs

    No! Since you obviously lack basic comprehension skills, I won’t bother to elaborate.

  • Mike Jones

    So do you think the women in the picture above are behaving irresponsibly? Chatting while crossing the street in a crosswalk?

  • Maria

    I live in San Francisco….land of oblivious, entitled, inconsiderate, rude people. Typical liberal city…no rules. The previous crosswalk signals, which simply went from white “Walk” to flashing red “Don’t Walk,” worked far better and gave a few more cars the opportunity to get through the intersection. With the stupid count down signals, pedestrians are stepping off the curb with 2 counts remaining on the signal, with light turning red as they slowly stroll across. Pedestrians may have the right of way, but when I’m a pedestrian I am considerate of motorists as well (particularly at a stop sign…pedestrians should take turns and let a car go through, then take their turn walking….instead of the steady stream of pedestrians walking without consideration for anyone else).

  • Esuna Cetra

    Whatll happen is that in addition to no uturn, there will be no redright most places, especially DT.

  • pamalot

    Perfect ! Now people can take their good old time strolling across the street, checking their phones, oblivious to their surroundings and it’s legal.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll still continue cutting off pedestrians during the walk phase as they do currently. 😉

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    Well, that now means motorists and cyclists will not be able to make right turns…

  • Joe Linton

    This makes me really happy! The LAPD’s ped stings have been so counter-productive for tens of thousands of people in L.A. Kudos to Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar and Governor Brown for leadership!

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