Constantinides’ bill would decriminalize jaywalking in NYC
TIMESLEDGER | QNS.COM | SEPT. 25-OCT. 1, 2020 9
BY ANGÉLICA ACEVEDO
Astoria Councilman Costa Constantinides
said he will introduce a
bill to decriminalize jaywalking in
New York City.
The bill, Constantinides said,
would effectively end the arbitrary
enforcement overwhelmingly placed
against Black and Latinx New Yorkers
and pave the way for pedestrianfriendly
“Every New Yorker crosses in the
middle of the block, but that can end
in a ticket depending on your skin color,”
said Constantinides. “It’s beyond
time we end this system by changing
these outdated rules, which no longer
reflect New York City’s modernday
An anti-jaywalking law was first
introduced in 1958 in New York City,
but the rule has since been broken
by many New Yorkers, according to
Gothamist. However, in the last few
years, the NYPD began cracking
down on pedestrians crossing in the
middle of the street and issuing fines
of up to $250.
Constantinides’ legislation would
bring the city’s street rules in line
with those of the state, which allow
a pedestrian to cross at any point of
the street so long as there is no oncoming
traffic. This would remove
criminal and civil penalties for jaywalking.
The councilman — who represents
District 22, which includes
Astoria, Rikers Island, and parts of
Jackson Heights, Woodside and East
Elmhurst — argues the city’s streets
are governed by rigid, archaic rules
in which pedestrians must cross
within marked pathways when given
a walk signal. Anyone cited for these
violations must physically go to
court to pay a fine, while drivers are
allowed to settle their infractions online.
Black and Latinx New Yorkers account
for almost 90 percent of the 397
illegal crossing tickets issued in 2019,
according to an analysis by Streetsblog.
In the first three months of this
year, before the COVID-19 pandemic
forced the city to shutdown, those
Streetsblog’s report found almost
40 percent of the illegal crossings in
2019 were issued in three precincts
in the Bronx, where almost every
person fined was Black or Latinx.
In Brooklyn’s Sunset Park and Red
Hook neighborhoods, Black and
Latinx residents received 65 percent
of illegal crossing tickets — but make
up 33 percent of the population within
the district’s precinct.
Nearly half of the city’s 77 police
precincts didn’t issue an illegal
crossing ticket in 2019.
The NYPD maintains there is no
racial bias in issuing tickets.
Constantinides also cited the
violent police assault of Kang Wong
in 2014. The 84-year-old man was
stopped and later beaten by police for
crossing a street in the Upper West
Side against the light.
Transportation advocates for safer
streets support Constantinides’
“In New York, crossing the street
should not be a crime, especially one
that disproportionately targets Black
and brown communities,” said Marco
Conner DiAquoi, deputy director
of Transportation Alternatives.
“This legislation by Council member
Constantinides puts people first on
New York City’s streets and would
help end harmful and unacceptable
racially disparate enforcement.”
Councilman Costa Constantinides Courtesy of Costa Constantinides’ offi ce
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