As Arturo Mendez stood ready for a crossing sign at Santa Clara and Ninth streets in downtown San Jose, he admitted he’s had a couple of scary moments making his manner by way of the crosswalks on the large, busy streets.
“Numerous instances it sort of feels like they’re going to hit you, even if you’re within the crosswalk,” stated Mendez, 18, a San Jose Metropolis Faculty scholar who lives within the metropolis.
A brand new state regulation, AB 413 by Assemblyman Alex Lee, a Milpitas Democrat, goals to make these crossings safer for Mendez and different pedestrians. It prohibits parking too near crosswalks to enhance visibility for drivers and pedestrians, an idea security advocates name “daylighting.” The regulation, efficient this yr, has a 12-month grace interval earlier than violators get dinged with expensive parking tickets tucked below their windshield wipers.
“Intersections are a few of the most deadly sections of our roads the place vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians cross paths,” stated Lee, including that California’s pedestrian fatality charge is almost 25% greater than the nationwide common, and 43 different states have daylighting legal guidelines which were proven to be efficient. “Daylighting is an easy resolution that improves visibility of intersections for everybody.”
Vehicles parked at an intersection impede visibility two methods — drivers can’t see pedestrians standing behind the vehicles, and pedestrians can’t see across the parked vehicles with out moving into the road. The brand new regulation typically prohibits parking a car inside 20 toes of both facet of any marked or unmarked crosswalk, or inside 15 toes of any crosswalk with a curb extension or bulb-out. What does that appear like? A Toyota Camry or Honda Accord are each about 16 toes lengthy, a Honda Civic or Toyota Prius are each about 15 toes lengthy.
Cities are simply starting to grapple with how they’re going to place the brand new regulation into impact — particularly in bustling downtowns like San Francisco’s the place avenue parking already is scarce. Most motorists are unaware of the brand new rule, and the regulation didn’t include funding for altering the curb and avenue markings.
“There’s a giant hole within the public’s consciousness of this laws,” stated Colin Heyne, a spokesman for the San Jose Division of Transportation. “We’ve got greater than 60,000 intersections on this metropolis, so we’re not going to have the ability to paint the curbs crimson for each one in every of them. We want assist from the state in hopefully educating drivers about this new regulation.”
Sean Maher, a spokesman for the Oakland metropolis administration, stated that the town continues to be creating an strategy because the measure takes impact.
The crosswalk parking regulation is amongst a lot of new measures state officers are taking to reverse an alarming rise in visitors and pedestrian deaths. Annual visitors fatalities within the state have risen 10% from 3,884 to 4,285, and pedestrian fatalities 18% from 940 to 1,108 from 2017-2021, based on the California Workplace of Site visitors Security’s newest annual report.
One other regulation enacted this yr, AB 645, by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, a Burbank Democrat, permits six cities together with San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco to start trials of pace enforcement cameras that can routinely implement pace limits.
And SB 961, a invoice within the works by state Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, would require new vehicles in California to be geared up with expertise to make it more durable to go greater than 10 mph over the posted pace restrict.
San Jose and Oakland have seen dozens of visitors fatalities lately, with pedestrian deaths accounting for a major share. In 2023, San Jose recorded 27 pedestrian deaths, 55% of the 49 whole visitors fatalities. Oakland had 13 pedestrian deaths final yr, 45% of the 29 whole visitors fatalities.
Lee’s crosswalk daylighting regulation says native governments could permit parking for bicycles or motorized scooters throughout the 20-foot zone. And so they can permit auto parking nearer to crosswalks in the event that they present it may be justified by established visitors security requirements and mark the parking house with paint or signage.
Round downtown San Jose, there are a variety of areas with marked and infrequently metered parking inside 20 toes of a crosswalk.
The Santa Clara and Ninth streets intersection is amongst them. Sabriya Karaca, 40, of San Francisco, parked in one of many spots set about 10 toes again from the cross stroll to make a cellphone name, and stated she was unaware of the brand new regulation. Although she understood the concept behind it, eradicating the spot to conform she stated would make it more durable to park downtown.
On the east entrance to San Jose State College alongside tenth Avenue, about two toes of crimson curb paint separates a marked parking house from the crosswalk the place college students cross the busy highway that connects to the Interstate 280 freeway.
Heyne stated San Jose is simply starting to take a look at what parking areas could also be affected by the brand new regulation and what to do about them.
“This regulation is an unfunded mandate so, like different cities, we should not have plans to regulate or add crimson paint until we have now considerations about particular places,” Heyne stated.
Particularly in locations like residential neighborhoods, the place there are few curb markings, residents should simply know to not park too near a crosswalk or intersection, simply as they do with fireplace hydrants.
“We don’t put crimson paint round each fireplace hydrant within the metropolis, we count on drivers to know,” Heyne stated. “It’s going to be the identical for this.”
Mendez, the town faculty scholar, stated whereas he appreciates the brand new regulation’s effort to make strolling downtown safer, he hopes that may be carried out with out sacrificing too many parking areas.
“It’s sort of additionally arduous to seek out parking,” he stated.