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Constantinides to Introduce Bill to Decriminalize Jaywalking in NYC

Crosswalk along Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside (Photo: Queens Post)

Sept. 15, 2020 By Christian Murray

A Queens legislator will be introducing a bill before the city council Wednesday that calls for the decriminalization of jaywalking.

Council Member Costa Constantinides, who is sponsoring the bill, said that black and Latinx New Yorkers are the ones most ticketed for jaywalking and the bill aims to end the disparity.

“Every New Yorker crosses in the middle of the block, but that can end in a ticket depending on your skin color,” Constantinides, who represents Astoria said in a statement. “It’s beyond time we end this system by changing these outdated rules, which no longer reflect New York City’s modern day streetscape.”

The legislation would bring the city’s street rule in line with those of the state, which allows a pedestrian to cross at any point of the street—so long as there is no oncoming traffic.

Constantinides’ legislation would remove criminal and civil penalties for “jaywalking.” Currently, pedestrians must cross within marked pathways when given a walk signal. Anyone cited for a violation must physically go to court to pay a fine.

The council member said that the current rules run counter to a New York City norm, which is to cross at any point of the street when a car isn’t coming.

He said the current policy unfairly targets people of color. He cites a Streetsblog report that found black and Latinx New Yorkers received 89.9 percent of the 397 illegal crossing tickets issued in 2019.

The analysis found that almost 40 percent of the 2019 illegal crossing tickets were issued in three Bronx precinct, where almost every person fined was black or Latinx.

The bill has got the backing of Transportation Alternatives.

“In New York, crossing the street should not be a crime, especially one that disproportionately targets black and brown communities,” said Marco Conner DiAquoi, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives.

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5 Comments

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Sara Ross

As a driver (and a walker who crosses at the corners with the lights) jaywalking is beyond dangerous and the walker is tempting fate. A driver can’t stop on a dime (no matter what the vehicle is) when somebody crosses in the middle of the street, goes between cars to do it and crosses against the light. People are busy looking down at their phones and plugged in (most aren’t wearing masks by the way) and aren’t looking to see if any cars/buses/cabs/trucks are coming. I never understood why people cross in the middle of the street just to walk to the corner on the other side of the street. I guess it’ll only be a crime when the person is hit by a car and either badly injured or killed but then you can’t blame the walker, only the driver.

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CHARLES CASTRO

You can play the ethnicity name changing with the blacks, negros, colored, Afro American, African American, brown, etc. etc. Don’t use that BS on us Latino’s we are Latino’s PERIOD. Men, women, Gays, Trans, etc. etc. we are not LatinX. Use that on yourself, i.e. IrishX BritishX, etc.etc.

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Astoria-718

Horrible idea, it is the only thing that keeps most people from crossing the street without looking. They don’t really look for oncoming traffic, they look to see if police are nearby. Some pedestrians believe that drivers should be responsible for their safety instead of acting in their best interests. Banning this law will just make some pedestrians act aggressive toward drivers while crossing the streets. Jaywalking is also rarely enforced in this city, only when the person jaywalking is doing so in a reckless and dangerous manner.

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Skippy

The same excuse was used for fare beating. Just obey the laws. Also, go after the bicycleists who break the laws, especially the electric bikes and scooters.

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