Why isn’t LAPD ticketing drivers in the crosswalk?

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Earlier this year, we published a response to the LAPD jaywalking crackdown asking officers to please focus their energy on ticketing drivers who were blocking or in some cases blatantly driving through a crosswalk while pedestrians were present—something we saw and documented as a far bigger safety issue on downtown streets. Two weeks ago, Melanie Freeland was verbally berated and nearly hit by a driver who purposely sped through a crosswalk, then dismissed by a police officer who saw the entire incident. We asked Melanie to share her story, as well as the letter she sent to LAPD.

On Wednesday June 18, I was crossing Flower Street heading east at 6th Street during my lunch hour. I was walking in the crosswalk, with the signal, when a vehicle heading east on 6th Street in the outside lane failed to yield at the light when making a right-hand turn. The car came to a quick stop in the crosswalk, startling me and I stopped walking to look at the driver, expecting to see an acknowledgement or nod of apology for nearly hitting me. Instead the driver laid on the horn, long and loud.

Confused, I looked at the crosswalk signal which was still a clear walk signal, not even counting down, with other people around me continuing to cross the street. I pointed to the signal and held my hands up in a “I don’t understand” signal to the driver. He then proceeded to roll down his window and lean his head out, yelling expletives which—in summary—demanded I get out of the street. I had my cellphone in hand so I held it up to snap a photo of him and his license plate. Upon seeing this he hit the gas, swerved, pealing out as he continued down Flower Street. He missed hitting me and other pedestrians in the crosswalk by only a few inches.

I work downtown at 5th and Flower and usually walk somewhere in the neighborhood for lunch or for after-work activities so I’m acquainted with the average driver’s antics when they’re in a hurry. Yet I was admittedly shaken after this event.

I continued to cross the street and it was when I turned to cross 6th Street that I noticed a police car was sitting two cars back at the red light. I flagged him and he pulled over. I asked if he had seen the car. He said, “I did. Did you hear me hit my PA?” I said no, at which time he asked if I was okay and why I was “blocking traffic.” To be clear, he specifically asked if I was on any medication.

I explained I was in the crosswalk to cross the street with a clear walk signal—he was at the same red light waiting—and that the car nearly hit me, then threatened me verbally and threatened me with his vehicle. He explained that he had seen the driver lean out the window but couldn’t hear what he said or the events preceeding, that so had assumed I was blocking traffic, thus why he had hit the PA.

At this point I was extremely frustrated with the situation. I questioned the officer about the vehicle code, asking him if a driver could enter a crosswalk and then proceed through it while pedestrians were in the area without being ticketed. He told me that unless someone was injured then a ticket could not be issued. I requested a follow up and left him with my information and the information of the car and driver.

After conferring with Los Angeles Walks, we were able to find two sections of the City’s vehicle code which we think expressly empower officers to ticket drivers who fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians. Below is the letter I sent to LAPD.

My question is this: If a pedestrian can be ticketed for potentially impeding vehicle traffic by beginning to cross the crosswalk after the countdown, then why aren’t cars being ticketed for entering the crosswalk, which not only impedes pedestrian traffic but often endangers their safety?

We are waiting for a response from LAPD.

Hello Officer Saletros,

I’m following up with you on an incident that occurred on 6/18 at the corner of 6th & Flower. A silver Mercedes with CA license plate [redacted] failed to yield to me in the crosswalk while attempting to make a right hand turn on red and I had a clear walk signal. The driver proceeded to verbally assault me and cut through the occupied crosswalk inches from my person. I spoke with you briefly after incident at which time you explained that you had witnessed a portion of the events and relayed your understanding of the vehicle code which did not allow you to ticket the driver.

Thank you for your follow up call confirming your interpretation of the vehicle code noting that in order for a violation to occur a pedestrian must be injured in the incident. I have since followed up with the pedestrian advocacy group, Los Angeles Walks (cc’ed here).  They noted that LAPD officers in the past have done sting operations to catch and ticket drivers that are violating the pedestrian right of way in crosswalks.  They pointed me to 2 relevant sections of the LA Municipal Code. I’ve copied them below for your reference (emphasis mine).

The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk or any intersection.

(b)   Any police officer is authorized and empowered to issue citations to any person violating any of the provisions of this division on the same forms used for violation of traffic laws or ordinances by the Police Department of the City and in accordance with the provisions of Sections 40500, 40501 and 40502 of the Vehicle Code, or to place such person under arrest in cases where arrest is authorized for similar offenses under the provisions of said Vehicle Code.

Can you review and let me know whether either of these codes allow an officer to ticket a driver in the future for a hostile action such as the incident explained above? If not can you please confirm what code section that is used when ticketing driving during pedestrian crosswalk sting operations?

Thank you for your assistance,
Melanie Freeland

Update: Most traffic tickets are actually written for violating a state law—and crosswalk safety is no different. The California Vehicle Code also requires drivers to yield the Right of Way to pedestrians crossing the street.

VC 21950 says the following:

(a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

(c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.

(d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection

Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative Could Mean Big Change Near You


As a means to promote job growth, public and environmental health, and safety in our communities, Mayor Garcetti announced the order to begin work on Los Angeles’s Great Streets at a press conference last week. Working laterally across dozens of City of LA departments the initiative will see large alterations across the cityscape, making portions of each council district more pedestrian friendly. Mayor Garcetti boasts strong dedication to a livable street movement because, as he stated, “Our streets are our largest public asset, forming and reflecting the character of our neighborhoods, our people, and our city.”

It’s an important but still very small step—the Streetsblog LA reported that there will only be 12.4 miles of actual redevelopment, which when compared to the size of Los Angeles is nearly negligible. But with the funding and attention given to communities, both struggling and established, and this is undeniably a fantastic step in the most positive direction. Research released this week from LOCUS and Smart Growth America even named L.A. specifically as a city with the most walkability potential in the country. As the plans unroll and begin to break ground, we hope to see major changes everywhere we walk.  

Here are the first 15 Great Streets!

1.     CD1: North Figueroa St between Avenue 50 & 60

2.     CD2: Lankershim Blvd between Chandler & Victory

3.     CD3: Sherman Way between Wilbur & Lindley

4.     CD4: Western Ave between Melrose & 3rd St

5.     CD5: Westwood Blvd between Le Conte & Wilshire

6.     CD6: Van Nuys Blvd between Victory & Oxnard

7.     CD7: Van Nuys between Laurel Canyon & San Fernando

8.     CD8: Crenshaw Blvd between 78th St & Florence

9.     CD9: Central Ave between MLK Blvd & Vernon

10.  CD10: Pico Blvd between Hauser & Fairfax

11.  CD11: Venice Blvd between Beethoven & Inglewood

12.  CD12: Reseda Blvd Plummer & Parthenia

13.  CD13: Hollywood Blvd La Brea & Gower

14.  CD14: Cesar Chavez Ave between Evergreen & St. Louis

15.  CD15: Gaffey St between 15th St & the 110

Streetsie Victory!

jessica and alissaCongratulations to our special LA Walks steering committee members, Jessica Meaney and Alissa Walker, recipients of LA Streetsblog Streetsie Awards! These two individuals show outstanding work in the name of livable streets through advocacy and journalism, respectively. As a means to celebrate their accomplishment, LA Walks is co-hosting a walk with Streetsblog LA starting in Echo Park and moving to an undisclosed party location (you’ll get the address when you RSVP).

Saturday, July 12, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Meet at the Boathouse on Echo Park Lake.

Family friendly, all are welcome.

$10 donation suggested, but pay what you can!

Buy your tickets on Eventbrite to reserve your space and invite people on Facebook. All details here.

LA Walks x LA2050: Walk, Talk, & Listen

LA Walks x LA2050: Walk, Talk, & Listen from Rafiki Tree Productions on Vimeo.

In April, we hosted a walk through Lincoln Heights and Cypress Park highlighting a lot of the great local initiatives in the community as part of an LA 2050 Listening Grant. We met with non-profit directors, local business owners, artists, and city officials to talk about how our streets ought to be improved. If you weren’t able to join us for this fun walk, check out the video we made and let us know what you think! And thanks to LA 2050 for supporting us!

The Big Parade is this weekend!


It’s one of the best weekends of the year! The Big Parade kicks off Saturday morning in Grand Park, with a two-day, 35-mile walk through LA that ventures up or down over 100 stairways! The routes and timetables have been posted so you can join at any time and walk for as long as you’d like. (And if that’s not enough for you, there’s also a prologue Friday in Mt. Washington and Highland Park.)

Check out the Facebook events for more information and to share with friends. There may even be a special appearance by LA Walks along the route! We’ll see you out there!

Summer Solstice Walk on June 21

observatoryWe’re gearing up for another great walk. Join us to explore Los Feliz with Walk Ambassador Lawrence Sanchez on Saturday, June 21st. We’ll explore municipal parks in neighborhoods of Los Feliz and Griffith Park featuring scenic views of the City. The walk will mostly focus on the history of Barnsdall Art Park, Los Feliz, Griffith Park and the Griffith Observatory. Along the walk we’ll learn about two Frank Lloyd Write buildings, the original Walt Disney Studio, and unique landscapes of the neighborhoods. The walk will take the group up to the Griffith Observatory in time for the Observatory’s Summer Solstice event!

This walk is approximately four miles long and includes a number of staircase, hills, and dirt hiking trails so strollers/rollers are not advised. Route Link: http://goo.gl/JjokQ7

Walkers will have the option to take the Griffith Park Observatory shuttle back to the Red Line station or to walk back. The shuttle ride is 15 minutes so walkers can be back at the Red Line by 9pm, folks walking will arrive back at the Red Line station closer to 10pm.

Summer Solstice Walk
Saturday, June 21
Meet at 5:45 pm
Vermont / Sunset Metro Red Line Station, corner of Vermont and Sunset in Los Feliz

Advanced tickets are $8. Tickets the day of the walk are $15.
Purchase your ticket today!
All proceeds benefit Los Angeles Walks.

Thanks for everyone who joined up for our Forgotten Edendale Walk and our LA2050 Walk, especially our Walk Ambassadors Dave Ptach and Jack Moreau. We’ll have photos and a synopsis of those walks up shortly.

Footnotes: A Report on the State of Walking in LA

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We have been hard at work on our first annual report on the state of walking in LA. We have a lot of great contributions from local writers, illustrators, designers, and policymakers, and the piece was produced by our own steering committee members, designed by Colleen Corcoran and edited by Alissa Walker.

The report includes both personal stories, tips for walkers, metrics on pedestrian issues in LA, and more serious policy discussions. We hope you’ll check it out!

We’ll be posting articles online over the next few months, but you can get your copy by donating to Los Angeles Walks …and help fund our Spanish language version!

Thanks to all the contributors! Rudy Espinoza, Christopher Hawthorne, Randal Henry and Manal Aboelata-Henry, LA History, Andy Janicki, Daveed Kapoor, Dylan Lathrop, Andy Martinez, Outpost, Mark Vallianantos, DJ Waldie, Valerie Watson, Brian Rea, and Rosten Woo.

And thanks to DJ Waldie, who mentioned our publication in his latest KCET column while reflecting upon what it means to be a pedestrians in LA.

Red Hill and Forgotten Hamlet of Edendale Walk


On Saturday, May 10 we’ll explore Red Hill and the Forgotten Hamlet of Edendale, now known as Echo Park. This walk will be led by Walk Ambassador Dave Ptach of the Los Angeles Stairstreet Advocates. The walk will mostly focus on the history of Edendale, Echo Park, and Elysian Heights. Along the walk we’ll learn about Red Hill, the trolley line, artists and eccentrics that have called the area home. Dave has lined up a guest speaker to join us along the way who will talk about the early film studios, the McCarthy era, and more! This walk is approximately four miles long and includes a number of staircases and hills so strollers/rollers are not advised.

Tickets are $8 in advance ($15 at the door) so get your ticket in advance!

Find out more and buy your tickets here.

Red Hill and Forgotten Hamlet of Edendale Walk
Saturday, May 10
10:00 am to 1:00 pm
The start point for this walk is the Starbucks at 2556 Glendale Blvd @ Fletcher Dr.

LA 2050 Listens – Lincoln Heights and Cypress Park Walk


Join us for a trip through North East Los Angeles! This month our walk will start in Lincoln Heights and explore Cypress Park.

Come learn about how Los Angeles is gearing up for future change. Our walk will include speakers from local businesses, artists, and residents all focused on how we interact with our streets.  Highlighted locations include the Figueroa Art Tunnel, new Los Angeles River parks, local high schools and more.  A supporting foundation, LA 2050, envisions a Los Angeles where we create, connect, learn, play, and live healthily.  Participation in this walk will include a survey to gain feedback about how we can improve our city to embrace these values. Together, we can explore a unique corner of LA and provide important data for foundations, businesses, and policy-makers to change our urban structure.

The walk is 2.6 miles round trip and is stroller/wheelchair friendly.  Families and kids are welcome on this walk as we are exploring some great new local parks!

Sunday, April 27
Metro Gold Line- Lincoln Heights/Cypress Park Station

Tickets are FREE, donation are welcome – just RSVP here on Eventbrite.

Join the event on Facebook and Twitter for live updates. As always, please promote and share so we can spread our reach and build a safer LA faster.

Stay tuned for more info!

So many WalkLAvia options for the next CicLaviA on April 6!

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 9.39.18 AMThe next CicLAvia on Sunday, April 6 returns to the Wilshire Boulevard route, the most pedestrian-friendly CicLAvia of all! Rather than organize a single walk, we’re gathering all the great walking opportunities here so you can pick and choose how to spend your day on foot! Stay tuned for more details, but here are the options so far…

  • The LA Leggers will be walking (and running) from the One Wilshire Hub westward when CicLAvia begins at 9am. Meet up at 8:45. All details here.
  • Join Bob Inman for a 7.5 mile loop highlighting the architecture and history of Koreatown and Mid-Wilshire, starting in front of the Wiltern at the Koreatown Hub at Wilshire and Western at 11am. All details here. (You’ll be walking in and around the route so there will be plenty of chances to leave early.)
  • The City Planning Department will also be leading a walk eastward starting at the Miracle Mile Hub between Spaulding and Ogden at 9am. All details here.

Also: Be sure to stop by the Poketo booth outside the The Line Hotel at 3515 Wilshire (near Normandie) to stock up on Los Angeles Walks merchandise!