While Seattle has lost out on $44 million of funding for sidewalks, transit improvements, bike lanes, and pothole repairs that Proposition 1 would have brought, there is still an opportunity to make a difference for pedestrians.
A petition on Change.org is directed towards the city and City Council to Make jaywalking legal unless it obstructs vehicular movement.
Currently, jaywalking in Seattle is a more severe offense than smoking marijuana or public nudity. Only 1 of 4 city council members who participated in our Q&A clearly denied ever jaywalking, however.
Loosening jaywalking laws is necessary, since SPD aggressively targets pedestrians. Last year, SPD issued 1570 tickets to pedestrians, yet less than 200 to drivers for failing to yield the right of way (the largest cause of pedestrian collisions in the city). Auditors have also found that jaywalking citations often escalate to confrontations or violence.
Changing jaywalking laws here would support the city’s goal to make walking one of the easiest ways to get around, similar to pedestrian-friendly nations Sweden and Norway that also have lenient jaywalking policies.
Car manufacturers helped to criminalize jaywalking in the 1920s, and before automobiles, the rule was that “[A]ll persons have an equal right in the highway, and that in exercising the right each shall take due care not to injure other users of the way.”
Changing the law is a low-cost way to improve pedestrian mobility in the city. Click here for the petition.