This is part of our series on new California laws taking effect in 2018.
Starting in the new year, Californians will have more time to legally begin crossing the street.
Take Sacramento competitive racewalkers Karen Stoyanowski and Nicolle Goldman. As a former Olympic trial competitor and a national champion, respectively, they can cross the street faster than most pedestrians.
The two line up at the intersection of Eastern Avenue and Marconi Avenue in Sacramento and speed across the six-lane street in under 10 seconds, finishing with eight seconds left on the countdown timer.
“We could have done it twice,” Stoyanowski says.
But, current California law prohibits even the racewalkers from beginning to cross after the “Walk” sign disappears.
Sacramento County has issued more than a thousand citations since 2012 for violations of pedestrian signals, including this particular law.
“I thought that was the purpose of the countdown—so you can determine if you could make it or not, and if you could finish, then go for it,” Goldman said.
Goldman is essentially describing how the new law taking effect Jan. 1 will work. It legalizes crossing when the “Don’t Walk” hand is blinking, if the display includes a countdown timer and the pedestrian reaches the other sidewalk before that timer ends. If the display does not have countdown timer, the law remains unchanged.