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Pedestrian Question
updated: Dec 19, 2013, 7:52 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

It's illegal to step into a crosswalk after the 'countdown' begins. The LA Times had an editorial about this recently. This was news to me. Was I sleeping? Cops can ticket you for one foot in the crosswalk if the countdown has begun. I thought it meant just get to the other side before the end! How often I ran across seeing five seconds left. Any thoughts?

Update provided by an Edhat subscriber

Our Public Information office at the SBPD is Sgt. Riley Harwood.
I emailed him and he said:
"Regardless of whether a countdown timer is present or not, what matters is whether the pedestrian signal is green, indicating walk, or red, indicating don't walk."
So, I asked:
"Can you get a ticket if you entered the intersection when the pedestrian signal is green but are still in the intersection when the pedestrian light turns red?"
and he replied
"No, the pedestrian would lawfully be in the intersection at that time."

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 478545P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 07:59 AM

I don't know the answer, but I can't imagine a cop would waste his or her time on something so trivial.


 COMMENT 478548P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 08:17 AM

This is news to me too. Why? If the counter says 12 seconds doesn't that mean you have 12 seconds to get across whether your in the crosswalk or not. That has always been my interpretation and I am sure I've started across a street after the countdown began more then once. Will I change how I cross now that I know this, of course but under protest.


 COMMENT 478549 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 08:18 AM

But if you stepped into the crosswalk with 1 sec left and held up traffic while crossing, they might think about giving you a ticket. Probably start with a warning and then give you a ticket if you respond with attitude.

So many laws on the books, so few cops to enforce them.


 COMMENT 478553P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 08:23 AM

Agree with 545P, but still good to publicize, especially since I'd guess most people were under the same impression as the person who posted this. So countdown means "wait," not "run for it." Makes sense when you think about the chances of tripping and falling in the crosswalk.


 EDHATBARBARA agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 08:41 AM

If the light is green, it means "okay to walk" doesn't it? Regardless of what the countdown says? If the light is yellow, that means "caution" and red means "don't walk." I'd check online at the DMV.


 COMMENT 478564 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 08:56 AM

Not enough information provided.

A cop can give you a ticket for anything he wants to give you a ticket for. It's what you do with the ticket that matters. Contest it based on the law, etc.

As for the countdown, which count down? Is it a numerical counter or the one with the blinking green, red hand? This type was obviously open until it started to blink red, and then you could not "legally" enter the crosswalk.

But here's the bigger point. Most cops are human. They aren't going to give someone a ticket just to be donkish. But if you look like you're lollygagging or running across in the last second and causing a problem, then out comes the ticket book.


 COMMENT 478565 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 08:57 AM

If you run out of time in your attempt to cross, stop in the middle of the street and start aggressively panhandling for money. The SB cops will leave you alone.


 COMMENT 478566 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 09:01 AM

Is stepping into the crosswalk as stated identified as a violation in either the Vehicle Code or (our) City Ordinance?

If there is a law that relates to this issue, the pedestrian, light and crosswalk doesn't make much sense to me that an officer would cite the pedestrian. Then again, there are officers that lack common sense which, in part, is one of many reasons that create negative escalation during citizen contacts and bad laws.

Current education requirements for officers is great. But, an educated officer without common sense to apply what they have learned can be a problem.


 COMMENT 478568 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 09:06 AM

They can invent any reason, and fabricate any evidence they want, if they want to hassle you. If you resist, they will shoot you and get a few paid days off.


 COMMENT 478571 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 09:16 AM

It depends if you are at an intersection with a pedestrian signal. The key is what color the signal is when you step off the curb into the crosswalk. If there is no pedestrian signal, you can't step off the curb when the round traffic signal is yellow or red. When there is a pedestrian signal, pedestrians are controlled by that and not the round signal light. If the pedestrian signal is red or "don't walk", a pedestrian cannot enter into the intersection - even if the round light is green. The countdown is just a guide, not a regulating feature. A lot of people don't recognize that the pedestrian signal is also intended to give drivers (they have rights too...) who want to turn an opportunity to do that before the signal changes. How many times have you been stuck at an intersection on State St. waiting to turn because pedestrians keep stepping into the crosswalk.


 COMMENT 478575 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 09:24 AM

EDHATBARBARA... once the countdown starts the hand turns RED. That would imply the pedestrian is crossing against the red when entering the crosswalk during the countdown.


 COMMENT 478576 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 09:27 AM

With so many people getting hit by cars lately, this wouldn't surprise me if one could get a ticket of some sort. If people just used common sense...


 COMMENT 478582 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 09:33 AM

The cops can give you a ticket if your bad decision leads to walking on a red light or obstructing traffic. Often times opposing traffic is waiting to turn against opposing traffic, across the crosswalk (on a permissive green light) If you cross on the flashing don't walk and obstruct the turning vehicle or prevent them from making the turn, you could get a ticket. There are wide intersections (like Carrillo/ Chapala) that you may see the pedestrian signal flash don't cross, when the light is still green. This is designed so that slower moving pedestrians are not trapped in the intersection when the light turns green for waiting drivers. That being said a police wont give you a ticket if you are using due care and common sense. Running is fine, but jumping in front of cars is dangerous.


 COMMENT 478585 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 09:36 AM

This brings up a good point about defensive walking.

People please, keep an eye out as if every car is going to hit you.

Stop thinking you have "right of way" and stop being distracted by phones, strollers, skateboards, etc.

If you get hit you're in the hospital or worse. There is no right or wrong. It's just you lying in the morgue.


 COMMENT 478588 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 09:39 AM

If I were a cop I'd be thrilled that you were actually IN the crosswalk. The employees and patrons of the Goleta Valley Hospital regularly do a mad dash to the parking lot across the street to avoid walking a very short distance to TWO crosswalks put there for their safety. Please folks, use the crosswalks. Those of us driving by really don't want to hit you.


 COMMENT 478594 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 09:48 AM

565 - Best post of the day award goes to you my friend.


 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 10:07 AM

I'd sue someones pants off if they pulled that on me it's hard enough to get across the street when your old and crippled up now damn lights don't give ya enough time! The one at Cacique and Milpas really BLOWS and so does the person that made it that way!


 COMMENT 478604 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 10:20 AM

Next thing you know they will have a crosswalk camera using facial recognition software so they can just mail you the jaywalking ticket.


 COMMENT 478606 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 10:23 AM

I am not familiar with the law you mention above, but, I agree with most of you, that it is better to use the crosswalk than jaywalk. NOW that's a ticket and it's expensive these days. By the post office on Anacapa I often see people ticketed for jaywalking.

Also, if you happen to be walking at night wearing dark clothing please be aware that drivers in cars, including myself do not see you as clearly as if you were wearing white or something reflective.

Lately I keep seeing people walking or running across the street jaywalking or in crosswalks wearing dark clothing and at night it is difficult to see them.
Please be careful out there. Happy holidays all. over.


 COMMENT 478611 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 10:32 AM

This is why I push a shopping cart and leap on at the crossing - as a vehicle I can cross and not get a ticket.


 COMMENT 478617 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 10:49 AM

California Vehicle Code Section 21456(b): Flashing or steady "DON'T WALK" or "WAIT" or approved "Upraised Hand" symbol. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed crossing shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety zone or otherwise leave the roadway while the "WAIT" or "DON'T WALK" or approved "Upraised Hand" symbol is showing.

So yes, technically you are breaking the law.


 EDHATBARBARA agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 11:12 AM

There's a hand? Geez, I didn't know that. I don't pay any attention I guess.


 COMMENT 478642P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 12:23 PM

617 - Thank you for posting the actual wording.


 COMMENT 478651P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-19 12:41 PM

Ya, so I am waiting for the light to turn green to walk across the street--but there are drivers coming in the opposite direction rushing to make their left-turn light after it turns red, impeding my green to walk and giving me less time to cross. That's against the law as well - State and Las Positas is a prime example. Popular area for drivers whose time is more important I guess.


 COMMENT 478844P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-20 08:04 AM

585, right on. Defensive walking needs to be taught!


 COMMENT 478939P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-20 12:16 PM

As a group, pedestrians "walk" all over motorists' right of way, even when it's a traffic infraction to do so.

I've lost count of the number of times I've waited at a Green Light, to make a right hand turn, and pedestrians continue to stream into the crosswalk, even when the countdown indicator reads only 5 SECONDS. Then my Green Light turns Red before the last of them clears the curb, and everyone who was waiting behind me, must wait through at least another Light Change cycle before making their turns. This inconsiderate behavior causes much frustration, and also quite a bit of wasted gasoline, as engines continue to idle, while law-breaking pedestrians prevent vehicular traffic from flowing as the traffic engineers intended. Call it "Pedestrian Gridlock".

Darned right they should get citations and be fined for their contempt of law and human respect!

This problem stems from a breakdown in common human decency and consideration for others, and pedestrians are identifiable as a group that tends to contribute more than their share to this problem.

If people would simply OBSERVE and respect the rules of the road that apply to them, our streets would be a lot safer, easier to traverse, and people would be calmer and less stressed out as a result. Disregarding the traffic laws, and obstructing traffic that had the legal right of way to proceed, is simply a very arrogant gesture that says, "I'm more important than you."

In a civilized and orderly society, there is no room for such self-centered behavior when sharing the roads with other members of the public.


 COMMENT 479079P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-20 07:12 PM

@565: Your comment had me roaring with laughter. Thanks. My family thinks I'm losing it. So funny . . .


 DOG MOM agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-22 01:33 PM

585 is correct. Whatever is on the road or intersection that is most vulnerable to the most injury in the event of an accident needs to do what will protect themselves the most. There are so many more pleasant ways to use ones time than in an ER.


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