An assembly in Anchorage recently passed a law legalizing jaywalking in the state. The law went into action about a week ago on October 7th and since it has been an adjustment for drivers and pedestrians alike. Those in power decided to pass this law in hopes of making roads safer for bikers, pedestrians, and other “vulnerable road users.”
The way in which jaywalking has been legalized is that fines that offenders once would have been subject to paying have been waived and eliminated. However, this does not apply everywhere as there are still restrictions and rules that apply. Essentially, this law only applies when one jaywalks somewhere in which a crosswalk is not available within 150 feet. This is to say if one jaywalks in this range distance of a crosswalk, they may be subject to paying fines.
The new law has some supporters but also some opposers, namely Anchorage’s Mayor Dave Bronson.
To him, it is almost redundant to change this law, as he confidently believes that the state will discover the reason for the law in the first place and that it will happen in a tragic way. He explained it in a statement saying “There’s an old axiom that before you tear down a fence why put it up in the first place? And it’s like before you eliminate a law and find out why it was put in place in the first place.” He expressed his doubt about this actually making streets safer for drivers, bikers, pedestrians, etc.
While the Anchorage mayor has expressed his concerns and displeasure with the new law, many citizens have spoken out in their appreciation of the law.
One such citizen is Robert Sisk, who said he occasionally jaywalks, but always does so safely. He said that in his experience in Anchorage, they have not acted on any sort of punishment much anyway since they do not have a crazy amount of traffic. Since they do not have a lot of traffic, he has had no real problem anytime he has jaywalked.
In addition to the legalization of jaywalking, the law instated what is being called the Anchorage Stop. This allows bicyclists to merely yield at red lights and stop signs rather than coming to a full and complete stop. That is to say, they now have the ability to cross/continue on the street whenever it is safe for them to do so.