LAPD declares war on downtown's pedestrians

What can I say…Quebeckers, eh. It’s really a different culture. For example: when they break for lunch on a work day, Quebeckers will talk politics, religion, movies, books, the weather, philosophy, quantum mechanics (well, maybe just my friends), and/or hockey. But they never, ever talk about work. It’s an admirable trait.

I lived in Montreal for a number of decades and everyone, including the cops, jaywalks and crosses streets in the middle of the block, and generally enjoys life like the French, in that they seem to be always drinking but never seem to get drunk.

And when the pedestrians do have the green light, they flow, non-stop across streets corners. It was always funny to be a passenger in a car driven by someone from out of town who can’t figure out how to turn at a corner - 'cuz of all the people ignoring them.

“Just very slowly edge into the river of people, and at some point the flow will stop and let you drive on through,” was my usual instruction.


I wonder why we are not hearing from the outraged bloggers taking this on that a few pedestrians were killed in crosswalks in the recent past. One hit by a bus. Could it be the police perceived a problem, looked into it, and decided that the pedestrians downtown needed a reminder that they can not win that confrontation.

the older parts of downtown this is happening in were built up before the auto took over. It is an uncomfortable fit and the newcomers want to demonstrate their uber-urbanity by saying how un-New York this is. Yeah, big deal. Stay on the curb until you get the green. They are trying to save lives.

It also starts because there are (1) crosswalks where drivers zip through until the white turns to flashing red and (2) crosswalks which are death traps and (3) crosswalks where the people crossing and the people driving through can’t see each other until they’re only ten feet apart because some sadist put the thing on a blind corner.

It is possible that Los Angeles doesn’t have such intersections, but doubtful. It is more likely that people are ‘jaywalking’ because it’s the only safe way across.

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Well, I must hang out on the wrong corner of the internet. I haven’t heard anything recent about pedestrians being killed in crosswalks.

And regions clearly vary but in my area, it’s not pedestrians endangering their own lives by failing to yield way when appropriate. It’s the other way around. Either way, it’s going to take a lot to convince me that the best solution all around isn’t to adjust our roads to be more pedestrian friendly rather than enacting harsher penalties for pedestrians.

Not sure why this is so frequently considered the “solution.” Maybe it’s that people who can drive everywhere would rather not be impacted. Waving a punishment stick at pedestrians doesn’t do anything to affect the fact that many of our cities are poorly designed for mixed traffic but they’re all paid for by all of us in some way or other.

(If it pertains, I mostly drive. Drive about 65 miles a day not counting weekends when I drive more. Would drive less if I could but my job is quite a ways away.)

EDIT: And I see I have the most posts again so I shall recuse myself for a bit. Have fun, y’all.


The point of the “don’t start crossing if the ‘don’t walk’ is flashing” rule is so that cross walks will clear before the traffic light turns yellow/red, and therefore allow cars to complete their turns safely that cross the crosswalk.

How much time it takes you to cross the street is not the issue (“I can make it before the countdown reaches 0!” excuse)…the people turning left or right need to finish their turn and clear the lanes of traffic for cars coming through in the other direction when it’s their turn. If no one started to cross once it started flashing, then everyone would clear the cross walk in a few seconds and cars could safely and efficiently clear the intersection and traffic would flow much more more smoothly.

Frankly, San Francisco could use some tickets for jaywalkers, and some messaging to drive this point home. The intersection at 18th/Castro for instance is terrible for people darting out into the crosswalk at the count of 3 on the countdown, making cars trying to finish their turn have to screech to a halt. It’s annoying at best, deadly at worst.


A family member was struck and killed at a cross/walk intersection. He was visually blind crossing with the Go signal cane in hand. A Pick up truck turning left against the light killed him.

Not sure why Anglo’s always feel the need too speed up too the next stop sign or red light.
The invention of the car horn took a lot a way from verbal expletives.


Why shouldn’t I cross if traffic is stopped? The flashing red is similar to the yellow for drivers, is it not? If (as I understand it) the flashing hand is a buffer for slowpokes, but swifter people who manage to cross to the other side -without impeding traffic- are still ticketed…that’s a bad law.


Yeah, to reiterate a comment above, this is nothing new. They’ve been doing this for decades.

Coming from the UK I find the whole idea of being fined for not waiting for the crossing or crossing in the wrong place strange. I can’t imagine the average British pedestrian being any more able to cross sensibly than the average US pedestrian, so why does the US etc. need these laws?

That and all those stop signs, what’s with that?


What? We have to wait for all the cars running reds or turning though the intersection. How does having a white walk light when it’s lethal and a red flashing don’t walk light when it’s clear help?

I can’t help but read this as ‘clear the intersection of anyone on foot.’

'round where I live, the white hand is reserved for inconsiderate bastards who just have to turn. Then I can walk, but there’s that blinking red hand.

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I’m told it’s not uncommon for Los Angeleans to be hassled by the authorities for “walking without wearing a car”.


No, the flashing red is not analogous to the yellow for cars.
Yellow is legally defined as “clear the intersection”…not hurry through…Red lights mean “do not enter the intersection” (technically, that does mean that you don’t have to actually stop at a red light at a red/yellow/green lit intersection, just do not enter the intersection.)
Flashing red means “do not start crossing”…that way no new pedestrians enter the cross-walk, pedestrians already crossing finish their cross, and thus giving the cars (who are waiting to turn) a chance to actually turn before the cross-traffic gets their green light and blocks the intersection.

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MarjaE, I don’t understand your comment…are you saying that you are frustrated that some cars aren’t obeying the law and running red lights, so pedestrians shouldn’t have to obey the law either?

All I am saying is that the “don’t start crossing when the don’t walk sign is flashing” is there for a good reason…to help prevent intersection blockages and help improve the efficiency of traffic.

Perhaps the growing normality of pedestrians crossing when they aren’t supposed to, thus hemming in cars trying to turn, is contributing to the rush-through any gap you see mentality I see some complaining about auto-drivers on here.

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Of course that pedestrians-blocking-right-turns problem is easily solved by the three-light cycle used in many busy downtowns during peak hours:

  1. Red light for pedestrians in all directions, and east-west auto traffic. North-south traffic has green and can make unimpeded right turns.

  2. Red light for pedestrians in all directions, and north-south auto traffic. East-west traffic has green and can make unimpeded right turns.

  3. Red light for auto traffic in all directions (no right-on-red,) green (white) light for pedestrians in all directions, including diagonal.


What planet are you from? 'Cause it isn’t earth.

How are pedestrians supposed to start crossing while the cars are running through? Where do cars wait to turn? Sometimes they look left while turning right and hit someone who’s trying to cross. We have to wait for the last of the cars to turn, and by then, the light is flashing red.

I don’t understand your comment either, because you seem to assume conditions which do not exist. If we are going to cross the street at all, it has to be while cars aren’t running through where we’re crossing.

Oh, it wasn’t that recently. In the last two years, maybe.

The police can’t do anything about the roads or our driving habits except to enforce the laws on the books. It is true some restructuring needs to occur, but in the mean time respect for the big metal beasts is a safe compromise.

In addition to ticketing jaywalkers the LAPD in the past also ticketed people who blocked crosswalks or failed to stop for pedestrians. Indeed they used to run occasional sting operations where plainclothes cops would cross in a crosswalk so they could bust people who didn’t stop. Growing up this meant that stepping into the street would cause traffic to stop; before I moved away a few years ago things did seem to have worsened and cars would only probably stop for pedestrians.

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