What to Know
- The City Council has passed a measure to allow pedestrians to have the right of way while crossing during a flashing red signal
- Currently, New Yorkers don't have the right of way when crossing during a flashing red
- Under the new law, a driver who hits a pedestrian during a flashing red could face civil or criminal charge
The white light of a crossing signal means it's OK to walk across the street, but as New Yorkers know all too well, not everyone waits for it to begin crossing the street. Now a new bill passed by City Council will give pedestrians the right of way during a flashing red "don't walk" signal or countdown clock.
"The bill makes it clear that unless there is a steady red hand, the pedestrian has the right of way to cross the street," said Public Advocate Letitita James.
Currently, a pedestrian in New York City does not have the legal right of way to begin crossing the street during the flashing red signals. The new law would legitimize what so many New Yorkers already do.
That means a driver who hits a pedestrian in the crosswalk during the flashing signal or countdown could face civil or criminal liability for reckless driving.
Some drivers said pedestrians already hold the crosswalk hostage.
"Because of pedestrians I can't even get my car out to make a turn," one motorist complained Wednesday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill, which would then become effective in 90 days. Right now, venturing into the crosswalk during the flashing signals still puts a pedestrian in legal no man's-land.