Tom Vanderbuilt’s latest Slate column discusses jaywalking and why its enforcement is really just pro-car bias, and not the danger to pedestrians that is claimed. Tom is the author of Traffic:Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), and blogs at howwedrive.com.
The State Statute
[see ped-excerpts.html for a handy index of all the ped laws in ARS] What would normally be referred to as “jaywalking” (the term does not appear anywhere in the law) is actually section C “Crossing at other than crosswalk”, and rarely occurs outside of dense downtown core areas…
28-793. Crossing at other than crosswalk
A. A pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.
B. A pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.
C. Between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
The History of “Jaywalking” (#motordom)
The definitive history of “jaywalking” is Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City, by Peter Norton. In it he documents what can only be described as dirty tricks orchestrated and performed by those with vested interests in the automobile industry (collectively referred to as “motordom”). To my modern ears, the term motordom sounds derogatory; it is not, as the motoring groups coined that term themselves — there’s even a magazine published under that name in the late 1920s-30s by the NY Automobile Association).
For a humorized look at the history of “jaywalking” based heavily on Peter Norton’s book be sure to check out Adam Ruins Everything – Why Jaywalking Is a Crime
Jaywalking in Phoenix
36-128A. Except in a crosswalk, no pedestrian shall cross a roadway at any place other than by a route at right angles to the curb or by the shortest route to the opposite curb. A pedestrian shall not cross a roadway where prohibited by appropriate signs, markings, devices or by law.
So unless I’m missing something, except for the admonishment to cross using the shortest path, there are no new rules here; in other words, all that is already covered in state statute. It also means “jaywalking” — crossing outside of a marked or unmarked crosswalk — is allowed anywhere in Phoenix, subject only to the state rule about adjacent signalized intersections.
This seems surprising, as many cities have additional “crosswalk-only” requirements in a prescribed area, usually downtown.
Jaywalking in Tempe
Sec. 19-1(2) Central business district means all streets and portions of streets within the area described as follows. All that area bounded by the salt river on the north, to 10th Street on the south and from Myrtle Avenue on the east to Maple Avenue on the west. [note: the ASU campus is, mostly, not in the central business district. Rather it is east of the CBD.]
Sec. 19-151. Crossing a roadway.
(a) No pedestrian shall cross the roadway within the central business district other than within a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
(b) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway outside of the central business district at any point other than within a marked or unmarked crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(c) No pedestrian shall cross a roadway where signs or traffic control signals prohibit such crossing.
Jaywalking in Mesa
Consider these statements of two officials from the Mesa Police Department:
Jaywalking, when a person walks anywhere other than a designated crosswalk, is a crime, Mesa police spokeswoman Diana Tapia said.
“…It is a concern and it’s illegal,” [Mesa Police Crime Prevention Officer Patty] Gallagher said
— Mesa reminder: Jaywalking not only illegal, it’s unsafe. The Arizona Republic January 9, 2008
First off, jaywalking is not in any way-shape-or-form a crime, it is a civil matter — but we can write that off to sloppy wording. More substantively, Ms. Tapia is apparently unaware (as are many drivers!) of the concept of an “unmarked” crosswalk! (*all* intersections have crosswalks; regardless of striping or no… unless crossing is expressly prohibited). Also, jaywalking (though not defined legally in Arizona) means “crossing between intersections”, which is typically not prohibited.
Sadly, both officials show either ignorance of the law, or disregard for what the law actually says. (The Mesa, AZ ordinance is reproduced below). In order for it to actually be illegal, it must be either between two adjacent intersections with signals, or in the “business district” (What most people would call the Mesa business district is a tiny area clustered around Main St. / however as pointed out in the comment below, the defn in Mesa City Code is rather expansive).
I see parallels here in what is an apparent pro-car/anti-ped bias of police departments spilling over to pro-car/anti-cyclist bias. For example, the Tucson Police Department routinely run stings at stop signs to ticket cyclists who roll through; which is illegal but rarely fatal (I’m not aware of any fatalities in Tucson caused by the cyclist running a stop sign). At the same time, police rarely (a total of 3 over an 18month period by Tuscon PD) ticket motorists for passing cyclists too closely — behavior that regularly kills people. And this is all done under the aegis of enhancing cyclist safety — so be careful what you wish for when lobbying for additional money for enforcement, it is likely to get (mis)used for things that have no demonstrable link to our safety.
Mionske’s slant on the same topic.
Mesa City Code, see Title 10 Section 3 part 19:
When Pedestrian Shall Yield. (Reso. 990,1771)
1. Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway. (Reso. 990,1771)
(F) Prohibited Crossing. Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a crosswalk, and no pedestrian shall cross a roadway other than in a crosswalk in any business district.
Unmarked crosswalks at ‘T’ Intersections
(I’m warehousing this info here because I don’t know where else to put it, and I expect I’ll be able to find it if I keep it with the ped topic of jaywalking)
‘T’ intersections have THREE crosswalks, be they marked or unmarked (unless crossing is specifically prohibited by sign).
I was under the mis-impression it has always been that way — it turns out that it’s not always been that way… as it turns out, it has only been since a 1981 legislation that added the words “prolongation or” to the definition of crosswalk. Details:
In 1977, Kauffman v Schroeder (116 Ariz 104) a lower court declined to give jury instruction regarding §28-0793: “pedestrian must yield when crossing at other than crosswalk”. The driver appealed to the supreme court, who reversed the opinion, writing that the definition of crosswalk (at the time) required a sidewalk on both sides of an intersection.
In 1981, SB1201 passed, adding the words “prolongation or” to what is now ARS §28-0601(3).
In 1983, Boulware v Carbajal (138 Ariz 118) was a case very similar to Kauffman, both regarding pedestrians killed when crossing parallel to the terminating leg of a T intersection, and both regarding jury instruction of 793). I forget the details, but the court ruled that the change made in SB1201 was not merely “procedural” and thus not be applied retroactively. So I guess it was a party for the deceased pedestrian appealing, who apparently failed to get the new wording effective for their case, but perhaps the collision was from early 1981?? If that’s true it’s unfortunately, but I guess doesn’t matter now..
So T-intersections have crosswalks, whether or not marked.
Nice Page and Diagrams from Florida
bikewalkcentralflorida.org has a great resource page with great illustrations and explanations of FL pedestrian laws (and bicyclists, unlike AZ in FL, bicyclists on sidewalks and crosswalks are explicitly declared).
Why “jaywalking” isn’t a large factor in traffic safety
I don’t like that they use “jay” but I like their approach…
When people talk about pedestrian violations, they immediately think of “jaywalking”. This popular term usually describes a person dashing across a street in the “wrong” place. Though “jaywalking” is disorderly in appearance, in most locations crossing outside a crosswalk is legal. . . . Jaywalking is not a big factor in pedestrian death and injury either. The Seattle Police Department vigorously enforced the anti-jaywalking laws in that city for 50 years, issuing more than 500,000 citations. Seattle’s pedestrian crash experience was little different from the rest of the USA where little or no attention was paid to this problem. Jaywalking enforcement may have a place in eliminating disorder in a city. New York City is working on jaywalking as a public order issue. It is not an effective safety strategy. Jaywalking enforcement is often episodic and inconsistent but is always widely seen as a waste of police manpower. Many police administrators start jaywalk enforcement programs to their later regret! — Guide to Conduct Education &
Enforcement Outreach in Local Areas