The Saddest Story of Walking in the Rain, Ped. Gets Busted for Crossing on Yellow

I received this email from Chuck Kooshian yesterday, which I thought was the most miserable story of moving through Los Angeles in the rain, narrowly beating Joe Linton’s attempt to deposit a check during a power outage.  Everytime I read or witness one of these LAPD crackdowns or tickets of pedestrians crossing a street against a flashing hand or yellow light, I wonder how often the LAPD tickets someone for starting and completing a left turn after the light turns red, which is far more dangerous for everyone involved.

Anyway, take it away Chuck:

The Shakedown.

The sky over downtown LA was the color of an old tire
weight. I was in town chasing a lead on
a big job. The politicians in Sacramento had passed a law saying every part of
the state had to cut down on driving to prevent climate change. LA wanted to
hire an operative to tell the politicos they needed to rethink that idea,
because it was a death sentence for Southern California.

As the rain let up I took a stroll down 7th. A
big blonde follow loomed out of the wet shadows asking for a handout, but I
brushed him off. I turned and crossed the street just as the light turned
yellow. I dashed across in time and
headed down Hope Street.

A black and white screeched to the curb and a voice insisted
I hang around for a while. Two gorillas
with guns got out. One went around back
to cut off my escape while the talkative one let me know the score. It was illegal for a pedestrian to cross the
street on a yellow light in the City of Angels. He wrote me up; I could pay on
the internet. They let me go but my attitude had changed. I knew then that the City had cars deep in
its DNA. Pedestrians were viruses that needed to be controlled. I left town that afternoon, wishing LA good
luck with that whole peak oil thing. Maybe they can shake down a few pedestrians for gas money.

  • Completely outrageous! LA needs a pedestrian summit. If the city wants to promote a healthy lifestyle, they need to make it easier to be a pedestrian. Every day as a pedestrian in LA I am almost hit by a car running red lights. Not once have I seen the cops pull a car over for running lights.

  • The man is right, and though I argue that we don’t have cars in our “DNA”, we do have a system that supports car users above all other concerns – health, local business, regional economic vitality, livability, safety, sustainability, and also the feeling that you belong on the streets in your own city.

  • Neil O

    FYI, from the CVC.

    Interesting assymmetry in the wording of the law, in that the pedestrian facing a yellow signal is “warned” AND “shall not enter”, whereas the driver is simply “warned” but presumably may enter the intersection nonetheless.

    21452. (a) A driver facing a steady circular yellow or yellow arrow
    signal is, by that signal, warned that the related green movement is
    ending or that a red indication will be shown immediately
    thereafter.
    (b) A pedestrian facing a steady circular yellow or a yellow arrow
    signal, unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal as
    provided in Section 21456, is, by that signal, warned that there is
    insufficient time to cross the roadway and shall not enter the
    roadway.

  • @revebleu the L.A. Street Summit is happening soon… http://bikesummitla.wetpaint.com/page/LA+StreetSummit+2010

  • “the pedestrian facing a yellow signal is “warned” AND “shall not enter”, whereas the driver is simply “warned” but presumably may enter the intersection nonetheless.”

    In some cases there is not time for a driver to stop on a yellow. If they do they will skid and enter the intersection anyway.

    Every time you face a yellow as a driver you have to make a judgment call. Pedestrians, on the other hand, have a greater capacity to stop on a flashing pedestrian control signal.

    “Everytime I read or witness one of these LAPD crackdowns or tickets of pedestrians crossing a street against a flashing hand or yellow light, I wonder how often the LAPD tickets someone for starting and completing a left turn after the light turns red, which is far more dangerous for everyone involved.”

    I know people who got a ticket in the mail because they did a rolling right hand turn on a red at a camera-controlled intersection. I don’t know if those cameras detect left-hand turns on red.

    In any case, I’ve seen a couple stings recently on the freeways, with cops out in full effect handing out tickets like nobody’s business. Drivers *are* being cited.

    Your argument sounds exactly like what drivers sometimes say when they are pulled over, “Those other cars were going faster than I was. Why pick on me?”

  • Chuck broke a traffic law, plain and simple. It’s a shakedown because he’s the one who got caught. It reeks of grade-school mentality.

  • I should clarify my point. The point is that jay walking is not illegal on the east coast. I lived in Boston for 10 years and I have never seen or heard of someone being tickets for crossing against the light nor for crossing someplace otehr than the cross walk. There is a culture on the east coast that pedestrians should be encouraged and drivers should always yeald to them. In Boston, the pedestrian has the right of way. While that may be frustrating to LA drivers, the drivers are polluting and sitting all stug in their car. While the pedestrian is in the elements and not contributing to smog. LA should enact laws that encourage pedestrians. That’s the only way LA can become a more sustainable and liveable city.

  • revebleu, jaywalking is in fact illegal in Boston, but the penalty is $1….so it’s never enforced. I don’t know the law off the top of my head, but from what I remember, jaywalking is defined as crossing at a crosswalk when presented by a red hand OR crossing outside a crosswalk when within 40 (or so) feet of a crosswalk. The fine hasn’t be raised because it’s accepted practice.

    Spokker, he may have broken the word of the law, but what he did was not a crime. Either the law should be changed or a non-enforcement policy should be in place (similar to how selling marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, but a california cop will follow local law, even if federal law is supposed to trump it)

    A pedestrian crossing on yellow should not be illegal if he has time to make it to the other side. Crossing on red shouldn’t be illegal either if there is no traffic.

    Spokker, you know what law I’ve never EVER seen enforced? Laws against “driving too close”. The only tickets that are given for this are after a collision. I’m sure you’ve seen at a crosswalk, a car fail to yield to a pedestrian, not because he’s an asshole, but because a car behind him is too close and stopping would cause a collision. Wouldn’t it be great if we prevented those situations?

    Another example is one people use to fight red light cameras. “Cameras will cause rear end collisions!” Well, only if one car is breaking the law and not keeping safe distance!

  • Well, I support drivers, pedestrians and cyclists getting tickets. All should be punished!

  • I’m with Spokker on this one – def. need more tickets for everyone except me.

  • Actually, cops do give tickets for tailgating, because I got one on the 10 freeway heading up Kellogg Hill a couple of years ago. Of course, I beat the ticket through the stall tactic and trial by declaration method. (For reference, this method, which works for virtually all Vehicle Code infractions, is as follows: Within one week of the date shown on the ticket (but no earlier), request an extension on the LA Superior Court web site; within one week of that extension ending, request an arraignment in night court (another 6-8 weeks); at night court arraignment (which you must physically show up to), plead not guilty and request trial by declaration, and pay the fine; on the last week of the trial by declaration, turn in the paperwork at the court clerk’s office, and “Not Guilty” works just fine; and if you are found guilty, request a trial de novo and get a trial in another two months.)

    Incidentally, from talking to other drivers and reading the carhead forums, trial by declaration for LAPD and CHP is a little too ridiculous to get off now. LAPD has no time for their officers to sit down and write declarations, and the same with CHP. Therefore, I’ve heard that almost HALF of all trial by declaration trials are “not guilty”, with the primary reason being that the cop doesn’t fill out the paperwork. The chances of filling out the paperwork has decreased substantially over the past few years because of budget cuts, especially for CHP and LAPD – less so for LASD and suburban cops (cops in high crime jurisdictions, of course, are more likely to be chasing murderers than writing declarations). If the general public knew that they had almost a 50% chance in some jurisdictions of being able to beat a ticket, there would be even more chaos on the streets than there is today.

  • Damn, maybe we should have a calwatchwatch. Look at this stud beating tickets and taking names.

  • This calwatch fellow is more dangerous than I first suspected!

  • Ed Greenberg

    On balance, while Jaywalking is illegal in CA, and the prohibition is enforced, there is also an enforced law that requires drivers to stop for pedestrians while they are jaywalking. If you step off the curb, it’s supposed to stop traffic, and I’ve stopped, and seen others stop.

    Regarding the yellow, most intersections have Walk/Dont Walk signals, and if this one did, the original poster should not have crossed once the pedestrian had changed to the red “stop” hand. (Or printed walk changed to don’t walk.)

    He’s in the wrong here. As a bicyclist, I don’t want pedestrians popping out in front of me, especially when the road is wet. As a car driver, the same is true. Take your right of way when you have it, and give it when you don’t.

  • I suppose it’s a good thing that stories like this are promoted. But at the same time I find the author’s conclusions troubling and not entirely accurate. Anyone who has spent time walking in LA will probably have horror stories – I certainly have mine, though I’m fortunate not to have been busted in one of these disgusting sting operations. However, to conclude from a single bad incident that LA views pedestrians as “viruses that need to be controlled” is facile at best, and destructive to what progress we have made as a walking city. It promotes an environment of cynicism and weakens our determination to make this city a better place, instead encouraging us to just give up. As an aside, as appalling as the police’s actions were, it would have been nice if the author had assumed some modicum of personal responsibility for his own decision to cross on yellow.

    From this dubious police action, the author concludes that walking in LA is manifestly terrible and a lost cause. My view is that this is a setback on the slow but rewarding path to a more walkable, livable city. We should see this as an opportunity to redouble our efforts, not throw up our hands in despair.

  • undersea_gal

    This may or may not be completely off topic, but what bothers me is when pedestrians expect to cross at a light, yet they don’t push the button at the light which will in fact… prompt the walk signal.

    I am a pedestrian and cyclist mostly. Occasionally I drive. But c’mon, people. Common sense, please. /mini rant

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