‘Jaywalking’ in the Melbourne CBD

It seems that every second month the Victoria Police decide to hold a jaywalking ‘blitz’ in the Melbourne CBD – in the 2011-12 financial year they issued 5690 fines to pedestrians. So what actual offence do the infringement notices have written on them?

Police book jaywalkers outside Flinders Street Station

The VicRoads road rules for pedestrians page has the following to say:

Fines apply to pedestrians who commit the following offences:

  • cross against an amber or red traffic light
  • cross against an amber or red pedestrian light
  • cross the road within 20 metres of a pedestrian crossing
  • fail to cross to the nearest edge of the road after getting off a tram
  • fail to obey a traffic instruction from a police officer
  • fail to use the shortest or most direct route across a road
  • get out of from a moving vehicle
  • walk along or fail to give way when crossing a bicycle path
  • walk improperly on a road (by not keeping to the far side facing oncoming traffic when walking along a road where it is not practicable to use the footpath or nature strip)
  • cross a level crossing when not permitted
  • disobey a ‘no pedestrian’ sign.
  • cause a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver

While not crossing against the red man is obvious, the interesting offence is “cross the road within 20 metres of a pedestrian crossing” – this means you could just walk down the street a little bit from the traffic lights and wait for a gap in the traffic, and you’re home free. So how can you know you’re more than 20 metres from an intersection in the Melbourne CBD? Trams are your perfect measuring stick!

Melbourne’s single carriage trams are around 15 metres long (Z3 class are 16.64 metres to be exact) so you’ll need to add a few meters to find your legal crossing location.

Z3.194 heads west on Victoria Street at Errol Street in North Melbourne

The two carriage B2 class trams are 23.63 metres long, so if one is stopped at the traffic lights, the tail end is probably a legal crossing location.

B2.2118 heads north on Elizabeth Street at Lonsdale

As for the modern low floor trams, they are all far longer – the C2 class ‘Bumblebee’ trams are 32.52 metres from nose to to tail.

When you think about it, 20 metres isn’t very far in the Melbourne CBD!


I’m no lawyer, just a guy who knows where to find where our laws are published (the AustLII website is one).

In addition, while crossing more than 20 metres from a pedestrian crossing might be a legitimate option, common sense is still rIquired – you could get booked for “failing to use the shortest or most direct route across a road” or “causing a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver” – and as a tram passenger they could get you for “failing to cross to the nearest edge of the road after getting off a tram”.

I’m hoping the ‘pay attention to traffic and not blabber away on your phone’ bit should be obvious!

Again, oblivious to traffic because of their mobile phone, and about to get booked for jaywalking

March 2014 Update

Last week Victoria Police ran another “jaywalking blitz” in the Melbourne CBD, with their media release having the following to say:

Walk this way

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Police are disappointed by the number of pedestrians still not getting the message in the Melbourne CBD and choosing to risk their life when they cross the road.

After a three day operation police issued 690 $72-on-the-spot fines.

The main offences detected were for crossing the road against the red light and jaywalking to and from various tram stops.

Officers were concerned by the number of pedestrians who crossed the road without looking while talking or texting on mobile phones or listening to personal music players.

“Crossing the road without concentrating puts you at risk” said Sergeant Mark Rose of Melbourne Highway Patrol.

“We have run a number of operations but the message appears to not be getting through

“We don’t want pedestrians to be injured or killed while doing something as simple as crossing the road.”

Further operations are planned in the near future.

The police do have a point about distration – if you are stupid enough to walk out into traffic without looking you deserve to be fined – but if there are no cars around, I should be allowed to walk wherever I like.

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25 Responses to “‘Jaywalking’ in the Melbourne CBD”

  1. FelineCyclist says:

    Great post. I’m terrible with distances and always wondered how I could calculate the 20m rule. Thanks!

  2. Aenveigh says:

    It would be great to see the same level of enthusiasm applied to pedestrian ticketing (the offence causing risk largely only to the jaywalker) applied to vehicular based offences, which largely cause risk or inconvenience to other people (eg red light running, blocking intersections/trams, failing to give way etc).

  3. Jason says:

    Interestingly there is an exception to the “20 metres” law, that allows you are to cross a road no matter how close you are to a crossing, if you are crossing to get to a “safety zone” tram stop. See http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_reg/rsrr2009208/s234.html .

    Not sure how practical this is unless you like climbing over the barriers.

    • Marcus says:

      From my experience only some safety zones have full length fences – some have the occasional gap to let you walk through, while others are just fence panels alternating with openings.

  4. Andrew says:

    I wonder if the getting out of a moving vehicle rule is a hangover from trams did not have doors and people could jump on and off while the vehicle was moving.

  5. scott says:

    I was booked once on the corner of lonsdale st and spring st. As he was writing the ticket literally 20 people ran straight across the road against the red light – yet none of them were given a ticket.

    • Marcus says:

      While the police officer can’t book a second person while they are writing up the first person they caught, you could think people would decide following the rules would be a good idea once they see the police!

    • scott says:

      I got booked again 2 weeks ago on the corner of Lonsdale and Russell st. The police officer even read my rights out to me.

  6. Elwood says:

    But all the later W class trams commonly ran with doors on the left open all the time when the weather was suitable into the 1990’s.

    My understanding is that generally these blitzes are undertaken by the most recent class of cadets at the Police Academy. It’s a good way to pick up some experience issuing fines as the pool of offenders is effectively limitless.

  7. enno says:

    Meanwhile, Australia’s Bernie Madoffs go unchastised and unrebuked.

  8. sabretruthtiger says:

    Fucking criminal councils and government. IT’S ALL FUCKING REVENUE GATHERING!!!!!
    I guarantee if they took a poll 95% of people would vote against the fine. The government has no right to enforce legislation against the will of the people nor have they the right to take charge of our self defence and personal safety. The only obligation they have is to come to our aid in police and ambulance capacities when in trouble.

  9. Liam says:

    I got booked for crossing the rd early in this morning @6:30am when there is little traffic & the copper wouldn’t give me a warning! There was a chick who walked right past me doing the same, but he “didn’t see her”!!! He admitted to booking plenty of old people at Ashburton on High St Rd & not giving them warnings either! I asked him if he ever was guilty of jaywalking & he said it was irrelevent! Yeah right dumbass! You stand there judging me for an offence without mercy when you or your own are guilty of the same or similar! Fooking hypocrites they are! Nothing more than tax collectors for Caesar!

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Usually the coppers only bother booking pedestrians for crossing on a red light when they have one of their CBD “blitzes” – you must have bumped into somebody who enjoys doing paperwork!

      Still, walking out in front of the fuzz isn’t the smartest thing to do. I look both ways when crossing the road for two reasons – to dodge oncoming cars that might hit my body, and police that might hit my wallet!

  10. […] I’ve blogged about idiot drivers queuing through intersections, and police holding jaywalking blitzes. So what has changed in the past few […]

  11. D says:

    They’re not blitzes, they’re training exercises for recruits.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The police do still hold actual ‘blitzes’ – Victoria Police issue media releases to mark the occasion, which the local media occasionally pick up.

      The training exercises just happen, Collins Street seems to be the main location they target, though directing traffic seems to be the main task I see the new recruits doing while under supervision of experienced officers.

  12. […] All cleaned up in time for another pointless ‘jaywalking’ blitz. […]

  13. Phil says:

    Not just Melbourne.
    My youngest daughter was pinged in Phoenix for jaywalking. She went quietly and received her ‘citation’ without fuss.
    Another daughter received a stern lecture by two LA cops who let her off with a warning as she was “noo to our country’.

  14. […] ‘Jaywalking’ in the Melbourne CBD […]

  15. Euan says:

    As a tourist to Melbourne from NZ last week I was apprehended for crossing Collins Street at the corner of Spencer Street, and had my rights read to me, as did a previous blogger.
    I presumed that it was a training exercise as the officer filling out the form kept asking their partner questions about it.
    I thought it a bit strange at the time as the light had only just started to flash and I got across the road before it finished flashing. (although I am 62, I am fairly fit)I have been asked to pay $74.00.
    However, I have a question: Would it be a technicality if the infringement notice I received has not been signed by the issuing officer (N Dijkman)?

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