Letters to the Editor: It isn't 'nutty' to allow jaywalking. What's nutty is driving hulking SUVs

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Los Angeles, CA., December 3, 2019: Traffic safety advocates hold a "die-in" on the steps of L.A. City Hall on Tuesday December, 3, 2019. to protest the city's lack of progress on Vision Zero, a program created by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2015 that aims to eliminate traffic deaths on city streets by 2025.(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
Pedestrian and cyclist advocates at City Hall in 2019 protest Los Angeles' lack of progress in reducing traffic deaths. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Columnist George Skelton deemed a bill vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom that would have decriminalized jaywalking "nutty." Assembly Bill 1238 was actually sensible, and Skelton's framing of it from the perspective of a weary "commuter driving home at night [with] enough hazards to worry about" was much nuttier.

Since 2010, Los Angeles pedestrian deaths have climbed higher than motorist deaths, despite the fact that many collisions are solely between people in cars. That uptick is due to trends on the driver side, such as increasing purchases of sport utility vehicles, which are up to three times more likely than sedans to kill pedestrians whom their drivers hit.

Penalizing jaywalkers will not keep pedestrians safe. It does the opposite by asserting auto and, by extension, white supremacy. Police in Los Angeles have been known to stalk Metro stations to fine transit commuters, who are more likely to be people of color and low-income than drivers.

Any serious investment in rail and greenhouse gas reductions requires progressive action to decriminalize jaywalking and place greater responsibility on the drivers of larger, more dangerous cars. Further, journalists should put on the brakes before speeding to a conclusion that reinforces our state's tired reputation as a cartopia.

Alisanne Meyers, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I can only guess that Skelton never did much cycling. That may explain why he sides with Newsom's misguided veto of the bill by Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas) to let cyclists treat stop signs as yield signs.

I've been cycling for seven decades. In New York, jaywalkers are a constant threat. In L.A., it's as if drivers can look at cyclists and not see them. And yeah, there are bad bikers on both coasts.

Yet when a vehicle stops at a corner (assuming drivers actually pay attention to stop signs and don't consider them merely suggestions, which is all too common in post-lockdown L.A.), the only effort required to get going again is a little bit of pressure on the accelerator. When cyclists stop, it's as if they parked, opened a car door and got out. To get rolling again, they have to get back in the seat and pedal from a dead halt. That takes a great deal more effort than stepping on the gas.

By vetoing this bill, Newsom makes it clear he's in the driver's seat, and not on the bike's.

Peter Altschuler, Santa Monica

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.