Updated: Kansas City, Missouri City Council passed the ordinance this evening.
In 1912, Kansas City, Missouri became the first city to criminalize pedestrians in public streets. Today city council members will vote on an ordinance that would reverse that traffic law. It would also exempt people using active transportation, like bikes and scooters, from being ticketed for dirty or muddy tires and no longer allow cyclists to be stopped for a bike inspection.
While we want to ensure that kids and teens are safe to walk and bike, these laws does little to protect their safety. Reporters in Jacksonville, Florida analyzed five years of data but found "no strong relationship between where tickets are being issued and where [pedestrians] are being killed."
What they did find was that enforcement of pedestrian laws disproportionately impacted Black people and people in low-income neighborhoods. The same inequitable trends have been observed in other cities.
It is also unreasonable to punish people for walking in the street when many neighborhoods still lack safe and accessible sidewalks, especially in under-resourced and Black and Brown neighborhoods.
Because of this, some street safety experts have argued for decriminalizing walking and biking. There are better ways to decrease pedestrian injuries and fatalities. That's why we advocate for policies, like Complete Streets, that invest in sidewalks, streets and public spaces that are safe and accessible for all users.
Learn how jaywalking became a crime and why we advocate for streets designed for people.