Photo via John Pastor on Flickr.
Let's just get this out of the way: Jaywalking tickets are useless and racist.
A recent report from ProPublica and the Florida Times-Union
found that 56 percent of all jaywalking tickets given in Orange County are flawed, and the majority of these tickets are issued to African-Americans.
According to the report, 65o tickets were given from 2012 to 2017 in Orange County, and 40 percent of those were given to black residents, who make up 23 percent of the county's population.
Part of the issue stems from the wording of the statute. Florida’s pedestrian statute 316.130(11) allows pedestrians to cross "between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk."
But what do you do if you're not near a crosswalk?
The report found that many of the tickets were given to people in areas that weren't in between intersections with traffic lights, or that provide proper places to cross. Essentially, people are getting ticketed for crossing streets with no safer alternatives.
Not only do these tickets cost anywhere between $51 to $77, but they can also affect your credit score and even result in the loss of your driver's license. But the bigger issue is that jaywalking tickets are also used for racial profiling.
Earlier this year, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office said they used pedestrian tickets as a way to stop and question anyone they suspected of criminal activity, aka black people. In July, a video went viral
showing an officer aggressively questioning a black person for not crossing at a crosswalk and it's tough to watch.
While this type of ticketing is often used to increase pedestrian safety, studies have shown it to be ineffective. However, upgrading streets with proper crosswalks and lighting is a good first step and the City Beautiful has a lot of work to do on that front.
Orlando, which is consistently ranked among the worst cities to walk or ride a bicycle
, recently committed to a goal of zero pedestrian deaths by 2040
, and hopefully achieving this doesn't involve cracking down with more erroneous jaywalking tickets.
The Orlando Police Department told ProPublica
and the Times-Union
they disagreed with the report, but did not specify why.