What Will It Take for Sacramento to Make Walking Safer in Poor Neighborhoods?

One of Sacramento's poorest neighborhoods doesn't have enough crosswalks. It also has a high rate of jaywalking arrests. Image: KXTV
One of Sacramento's poorest neighborhoods doesn't have enough crosswalks. It also has a high rate of jaywalking arrests. Image: KXTV

Police and city planners in Sacramento have come under scrutiny in the weeks since police were caught on tape assaulting Nandi Cain, Jr., a black man, during a jaywalking stop. Cain, who was legally using an unmarked crosswalk, has since filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city. Now, reporters are looking into why there are so few marked crosswalks in one of Sacramento’s poorest areas.

“Driving around town looking for crosswalks was easier in some neighborhoods than others,” reports KXTV’s Anne Di Grazia. Speaking with residents in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood where Cain was arrested, Di Grazia says, “we hardly saw a marked crosswalk.”

To find out why, she visited Ryan Moore, the city’s interim traffic engineer. “Anyone’s free to request a traffic investigation at any time,” he explains, and his department will review to determine if a crosswalk is needed. “We respond to requests like that from the community, all day, every day.”

“All of our council districts get equal attention,” Moore claims. But the city doesn’t keep track of how many crosswalks it has or where they’re installed, so it’s difficult to verify the city’s assertion.

There is, however, plenty of data available when it comes to the police harassing people on foot, and the pattern is plainly discriminatory. The Del Paso Heights police district is responsible for more than two-thirds of the city’s jaywalking tickets, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis. Nearly half of the district’s jaywalking tickets go to black residents, who make up just 15 percent of the area’s population.

“People of color are not only more likely to be cited for crossing unsafely, but they are also at a disproportionately higher risk of being killed while walking or biking in their neighborhoods,” Walk Sacramento said in a statement after video of Cain’s arrest was released. “Though we absolutely must reform the way we police the most vulnerable users of our roads, it is imperative that our streets are redesigned now to eliminate these fatalities.”

“They’re always speeding through here like they’re on a freeway,” one resident told KXTV. When asked if there are better crosswalks in other neighborhoods, she doesn’t hesitate: “Yes, for sure.”

In January, the Sacramento City Council adopted a “Vision Zero” resolution stating its goal “to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2027.” A draft action plan is due from the city’s Vision Zero task force in August.

It seems like equal, abundant access to safe pedestrian crossings should be at the top of the city’s list.

  • YohanSF

    “…the city doesn’t keep track of how many crosswalks it has or where they’re installed…”

    Might be a good idea to start keeping track of that.

  • BortLicensePlatez

    americans are so fucking stupid. whats wrong with jaywalking? why is it even a crime?

  • Arcus Tenshi

    funny, your profile pic is created by an american company alongsides this website you’re commenting 🙂
    it’s a crime because you have to follow the law, if people just start jaywalking, then traffic would increase.

    do you even drive

  • oceanstater

    are they enforcing motorists must yield to pedestrians when there is a crosswalk?
    In many places, if you are not driving, you don’t count for much,if you are poor you don’t count for much, and if you are both not driving and poor, forget it.

  • BortLicensePlatez

    no i only fly with helicopters

  • 1976boy

    Do you even walk? Jaywalking is a “crime” that was birthed by the automobile industry, and foisted on local governments in the early 20th century to prioritize car traffic over people. Look at the street in the photo in the article. How is crossing that street going to cause traffic? Plus, the people in the photo are crossing legally, which is the point here.

  • calwatch

    California’s jaywalking law is pretty lax in that it is only a crime when crossing between two signalized intersections. In the photo above they are not jaywalking since they are crossing at an intersection. Nandi Cain was crossing at an intersection, which Sacramento PD basically admitted that the pretext for the stop was wrong.

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