PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Washington Sen. Rebecca Saldaña introduced a bill on Monday that would repeal jaywalking laws statewide.
If passed, Senate Bill 5383 would give pedestrians the right to cross roads safely at their own convenience and would supersede conflicting local ordinances, the transportation advocacy nonprofit Transportation Choices Coalition announced.
“We all want to be able to move about freely and safely,” Saldaña was quoted as saying in a press release. “While jaywalking laws may appear well-intended, they don’t actually keep pedestrians safe and may instead put them at risk.”
Data shows that jaywalking laws have disproportionately affected Washington’s black citizens in recent years. The Seattle Times reports that from 2010 to 2016, the Seattle Police Department consistently gave a disproportionate number of jaywalking tickets to black people. Despite making up about 7% of Seattle’s population, the report states that black citizens received approximately 26% of all jaywalking tickets given during this time.
“National data shows that jaywalking laws are disproportionately enforced against black people and in neighborhoods lacking infrastructure and resources,” Saldaña said. “Our streets and right of ways need to have the safety of all users built into the infrastructure.”
The introduced legislation follows a recent wave of states that have aimed to reform jaywalking laws, including California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Virginia. Transportation Choices Coalition Executive Director Alex Hudson said that jaywalking laws are outdated, oppressive, unhelpful, and don’t keep people safe.
“These laws were written by the car manufacturers over 100 years ago to establish auto-domination of the streets and don’t keep people safe from traffic violence,” Hudson said. “Now is the time to join Virginia, Kansas City, Nevada, and California in ending jaywalking laws so Washingtonians can get where they need to go.”