LAPD Ticketing Pedestrians Near Metro Center

Back in February, Curbed reported that police in Koreatown were ticketing pedestrians crossing the intersection of Wilshire and Vermont if they crossed after the signal starting flashing orange. Tickets, which were given to pedestrians even if they made it safely across the street before the flashing signal became a solid one, ranged between $200 and $300.

Last week the LAPD was at it again, this time at the intersection of 7th and Flower Street. Two LA Streetsblog readers report that police are waiting for pedestrians to cross the street, and if they entered the crosswalk after the hand started flashing, they’re ticketed. After LAPD in the valley focused their pedestrian safety efforts at ticketing vehicles breaking the law, we hoped that maybe LAPD had learned a lesson in progressive law enforcement.

As in the case in Koreatown, the LAPD has picked an area that has a lot of pedestrian traffic as a result of it also being a transit hub. The Red Line’s Metro Center stop and a bus stop are located next to the intersection. For those that appreciate irony, the sting is probably catching a lot of transportation professionals. The Southern California Association of Governments is located less than a block from the intersection.

The police would doubtless explain that this is just an effort to make the intersection safer. As we’ve noted before, there are a lot of things that can be done to make an intersection more safe other than ticketing pedestrians who cross the street safely. These include re-engineering the intersection to slow down traffic, retiming the pedestrian crossing signals, and adding traffic calming to slow down traffic.


  • Here are the questions that need to be asked:

    (1) Councilman X, how do you feel about the LAPD handing out $200 to $300 tickets to transit users in your district for not crossing the street in time?

    (2) Police Commander of Bureau X, can you show us any safety or traffic improvement data that justify this pedestrian sting operation?

    When you get answers to those questions, write it into a one-page .pdf file, stamp your letterhead on it with “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”, give it a sensational headline, and fax it to the local press.

    Next week, ask a similar set of questions of the Councilman and LADP Bureau Chief. Extend coverage by sending someone down to photograph and interview people being ticketed, or who have just been ticketed.

    Try and find people who are old, young, or in some way a unable to physically get across the street due to some sort of sympathy-iducing condition.

    Try and see if someone can cross the street before the hand starts flashing. Compare that speed with Olympic runner’s times for a similar distance. Include a graphic with this data in a follow-up article.

    Etc., etc. etc.

  • Jan Perry, Councilwoman, Council District 9
    (213) 473-7009
    Ask for her Policy Director or Communications Deputy, identify yourself as a reporter or a representative of a transit user group

    Jodi Wakefield, Captain of, LAPD’s Central Division
    Her email address is:

    I think that these pedestrian stings might have something to do with the mayor’s office, and his quixotic “tiger team” mentality that sees moving automobiles as the be-all-end-all of transportation.

  • low hanging fruit.

    i once talked to a bike cop at the van nuys station, what his ticketing regime was all about.

    he simply waited on his bike, for people to jaywalk near the OL station.

    he told me that as long as he keeps his “numbers up” (i.e. write lots of tickets), you get promoted and are considered a good cop.

    they have an economic incentive to write tickets. they aren’t doing it for safety, but because it makes them money.

  • calwatch

    The other thing is that LAPD has always had a reputation of being insanely aggressive on ticketing pedestrians. Hundreds of USC students routinely get swept up in those regular “stings” along the perimeter of the USC campus. Incidentally, jaywalking tickets are one of the easier tickets to fight. Pick up the book “How to Fight Your Ticket In California and Win”, or better yet, read the book online for free. Ironically, the Los Angeles Public Library offers the book through its NetLibrary service to any card holder.

    Do a trial by declaration first. Many times officers don’t have the time to write a statement, especially for jaywalking offenses. Sometimes, judges will waive fines (like in Mayvis Coyle’s case) if you are indigent or have a good story, so put that in the declaration as well as the facts of the case. If the trial by declaration fails, ask for a trial de novo and force the officer to appear in court. Request the officer’s statement from the Court as it becomes a public record once it was filed. Remember that jaywalking is not a “points” offense on your driver’s license, and that making the government prove your case guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is your constitutional right. So make it as hard as possible.

    Also, check to make sure that the road is governed by traffic signals at all intersections. If the road intersects a public alley, use that as your challenge. It occasionally works. You would have thought that after the fiasco of Mayvis Coyle they would have done better, but they haven’t.

  • calwatch

    More on Trial by Dec, the usual way of getting out of tickets:

    The problem with vehicle violations is that this Court has gotten stingy with allowing traffic school after a trial by dec or physical appearance. So generally I recommend first time moving violators to take traffic school and challenge the second ticket, which is unmaskable (the notation that traffic school was completed appears, which means that it was the person’s second ticket). Jaywalking is generally not a moving violation, but sometimes they write you up under running a red light (traffic control device), which is. However, that is clear overcharging and you should note that in a Trial by Declaration response. Also note that you are not obligated to write anything more on a Trial by Declaration than “not guilty”. Don’t unnecessarily perjure yourself. If you do that, and the officer doesn’t turn in his paper, you win. If you lose because the officer turned something in, then do a trial de novo and see if they show up. If not, you win.

  • anonymous

    As one who regularly uses the intersection of 7th and Flower (as well as 7th and Fig), what the police are doing is the following.

    If a pedestrian starts across the intersection after the red light starts to flash, they get a ticket. The lights have countdown timers, so even if they get across before the light changes, and they are not obstructing traffic, they still get a ticket.

    I have heard conflicting stories on the legality of the pedestrian maneuver, so don’t know the answer. If anyone is willing to look up the relevant ordinances, it should be on the City of LA website.

  • anonymous

    I should also add,
    before the police started ticketing, there were many instances where pedestrians started crossing the street mere seconds before the light changed, creating a danger to themselves as traffic started.

    I see both sides of the argument. Personal opinion is if they make it across before the light changes, they shouldn’t be ticketed. If they start before the red hand signal begins blinking but don’t make it across in time, they shouldn’t be ticketed.

  • Alan Fishel

    Is this about safety or revenue enhancement? Why are the LAPD punishing people for riding transit and for the poor design of the Red Line Stations with only exits on one side of the street? The people who designed the stations obviously don’t ride transit or the stations would have better accesses.

    There is only about 5 to 10 seconds of a “walk” cycle before the “Don’t Walk” starts flashing and if you miss the cycle the wait is normally a minuet or more. This is a lot of incentive to rush across the street as the “Don’t Walk” is starting to flash. With the count down shown one knows just how long they have to cross safely.

    What is the law? I always thought that entering the intersection was OK as long the flashing light is still flashing and you can reach the other side of the street safely before it turns full red and cross traffic starts.

    Come on LAPD is going after transit riders really what policing is all about?

  • Sam

    They were also doing this at 7th & Fig a few days ago. At this intersection, the eastbound left turning vehicles from 7th onto northbound fig frequently run the red arrow signal (frequently DASH!), and cut into the pedestrian walk times. In my opinion, LAPD should focus on ticketing these red light runners, not the peds.

  • sopasesos

    this has been going on in downtown for years… at least it has around the intersections of broadway/6th, broadway/5th. cops just standing at the corner waiting for someone to start crossing the street after the signal changes from “walk” and begins to flash “don’t walk.” doesn’t matter if you make it safely before the light actually turns red. the moment you step into the street that pedestrian light better still be “walk,” doesn’t matter if you’re a grandma trying to catch your bus.

  • The city should be treating pedestrians and mass transit users, as Stephen Box likes to say, “Kings and Queens.” They are our transportation solution. They should ticket those who do the killing and injuring not those who could be injured.

    That is like ticketing a woman in a short skirt if a guy harasses her.

    Ticket the drivers, who cut in front of pedestrians. Ticket the drivers, who exceed the speed limit. Ticket the drivers who lay on their horn when someone doesn’t move out of their way. Ticket the drivers who sit in their cars in parking lots with the engine running to keep themselves cool (and the planet warm.)

  • Anon

    I understand the ticketing as part of protection. I don’t enter the intersection once the hand starts flashing. But I agree to the above posters that say the red light runners and their ilk need to be ticketed. The Metro buses that FLY down the streets as close to the curbs as possible that run the red lights – especially are menacing!

  • Nick Matonak

    Another issue along the same line is that a lot of these crosswalk lights are timed so that unless you are standing right at the crosswalk ready to go, then their is almost so chance of you crossing the street legally since the crosswalk lights are timed for such short intervals. This is especially troublesome for people like me that walk slower than the average person

  • $194 for crossing when the light had just started flashing. The cop was nice but the ticket was not. Not correctable either.

  • Ticketing a pedestrian under the vehicle code proves the gov. is treating us (people) like the corporate vessels all capital letter names on the birth certificate/identification cards and is paper terrorism. I do not need some officer telling me that he is concerned for my safety and then give me a bill for whatever it ends up to be and telling me I have to sign it (under threat of force) and now since I am not in the business of making federal reserve notes and he is acting more like a parent then he can pay for my alleged debt to society without actual damages. These people act just like the military does in other countries since the ‘Act of 1871’ and subsequent erosion of freedoms to travel. Of course I am walking because the gov. allowed my new Harley to be stolen and then took my last auto. after they put me in jail for not pleading guilty to another charge that should have never been filed. I will be glad in a little over a month when I move out of the US and watch the destruction of the US from afar.

  • Tombs31

    Why do all you folks have such a problem with the guilty getting tickets? The law exists, don’t break it.


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