The term “jaywalking” is a nebulous thing, but most people define it as “crossing the street when you’re not supposed to.”

But when exactly are you “not supposed” to cross the road? It’s obviously illegal to cross against a red or yellow light, but there are many other pedestrian offences that could also get you slapped with a fine, says Const. Scott Parrish, with Traffic Services.

For most people, the word “jaywalking” evokes visions of harried pedestrians, darting between moving vehicles as they zigzag across the street instead of taking a few extra steps
to use a crosswalk. In such instances, you could be charged under the municipal bylaw for “fail-(ing) to yield to vehicles when crossing roadway,” resulting in a fine of $85 plus surcharge.

But what if you’re taking a shortcut across a quiet residential street in the dead of night?

Technically, this isn’t illegal because you are not interfering with the flow of traffic, Parrish explains. However, if you happen to interrupt a car’s oncoming path while doing so, that is punishable under municipal bylaw, he says.

Some people might also interpret jaywalking to mean disobeying traffic signals, which is punishable under the Ontario Highway Act.

Technically, it is illegal to step off the curb once the red hand starts flashing — even if the crosswalk timer is still counting down, says traffic services Supt. Earl Witty.

Each crosswalk is timed differently, but the red hand usually begins blinking somewhere between the 10th and seventh second, he says. Under the Highway Act, the fine for crossing against a flashing red is $35 plus a $15 victim surcharge, Parrish said.

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