I’ve never noticed it, especially in Fresno, but jaywalking has technically been an enforceable offense for over a century in California. Maybe it’s because I’m white, or because I jaywalk safely (more on that below). Jaywalking laws are known to be enforced excessively and disproportionately on people of color and severely impact low-income communities, where there are few, if any, designated cross-walks (plus, on certain streets, some cross walks may be a full mile apart; if you’re trying to get somewhere that’s literally across the street, safe jaywalking offers considerable convenience). Safe jaywalking does exist, and it simply means having proper awareness and caution, and not interrupting motor traffic. Otherwise, if getting struck while jaywalking, the fault is on the pedestrian.

How to be a danger to yourself and others. While vehicles should not strike pedestrians, pedestrians should not place themselves amid active traffic.

In practice, jaywalking does and has done nothing for overall pedestrian safety and is just racist. In 2020, Orange County police shot and killed an unarmed black man on the suspicion of… jaywalking while black. They weren’t charged, by the way. Last month on September 30, Governor Gavin Newsom had signed the “Freedom to Walk Act”, which takes effect at the start of next year. Dangerous jaywalking however, in which a pedestrian puts themselves in danger of being hit (which also unnecessarily disturbs motor traffic) is still a crime. Of course it’s still a good idea to use crosswalks, where there is protection for pedestrians (especially for easily distracted children and not so fast people), but taking police’s ability to randomly arrest someone for jaywalking while black is a step in the right direction.