Senate committee again proposing to decrease enforcement of jaywalking rules


The Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing this week on a proposal to reduce enforcement of jaywalking in the state.

The proposal comes as transportation advocates argue jaywalking laws disproportionately impact minorities and unhoused residents and can lead to unnecessary interactions with police.

Sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, Senate Bill 5385 would allow pedestrians to cross a roadway “as long as such a crossing does not impede the flow of traffic.”

Saldaña first proposed the legislation during the 2023 session, though it failed to advance out of the Senate.

If passed, SB5383 would prohibit law enforcement from enforcing  “unless the pedestrian is in violation of suddenly leaving a curb or place of safety to move into the path of a vehicle so that it is impossible for the driver to stop.”

During her testimony before the Senate Transportation Committee, Saldaña said cities like Seattle have already “deprioritized” enforcement.

“In part because there’s more urgent needs,” she said.

In a news release, Hester Serebrin, policy director at Transportation Choices Coalition, said the issue was one of “mobility justice.”

“By reforming jaywalking laws, Washington can help limit the harms of policing on marginalized communities,” Serebrin said. “All Washingtonians deserve to be free to walk.”

According to data released by the Transportation Choices Coalition, Black pedestrians are stopped 4.7 more times than their population share, and those experiencing homelessness make up 41% of jaywalking stops.

According to the research, most jaywalking stops occur at least a 3.5-minute walk from the nearest crossing. In recent years, jurisdictions including California, Nevada, Virginia, Anchorage, Denver and Kansas City have eased enforcement of jaywalking.

“Something as small and incremental as jaywalking could result in egregious loss of life because we are creating these unnecessary interactions with law enforcement,” said Paula Sardinas, a lobbyist for the Washington Build Back Black Alliance. “We think that public safety should be focused on other more serious issues.”

According to polling from DHM Research, 53% of Washington residents support the proposal, compared with 30% who oppose it.

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