On Oct. 7, 2023, an Anchorage Assembly ordinance went into effect allowing jaywalkers the freedom to roam across streets whenever they deem it safe in the city, and not worry about pesky jaywalking fines. Walkers now rule the roads in Anchorage, and drivers need to be ever-aware of increasing dangers.
Sure enough, on Jan. 30, a pedestrian was hit while crossing C Street outside of a designated crosswalk. He died at the hospital.
Now, the Anchorage Assembly wants to make it illegal for drivers to turn right after stopping for a red light in downtown Anchorage. This new ordinance, offered by Assemblyman Daniel Volland, would make a different traffic law for the downtown business district than for other parts of the city, adding to the patchwork of changing traffic rules proffered by the Anchorage Assembly.
In almost all parts of America, drivers may stop and then turn right on red if there is not oncoming traffic, unless there is a specific signage prohibiting it. Even in Seattle, “no turn on red” is now the default law.
Exceptions to the “right on red” laws are New York City, which has a no-right-on-red law and in 2025, Washington, D.C. will join New York City and make it illegal to turn right on red.
But in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, right turns on a red light have been legal since 1980, unless posted otherwise.
Alaska, too, is a right-on-red state: “Except when a traffic control device is in place prohibiting a turn on red or a steady RED AR- ROW signal indication is displayed, vehicular traffic facing a steady CIRCULAR RED signal indication is permitted to enter the intersection to turn right, or to turn left from a one-way street into a one-way street … ” the state law reads.
But the Anchorage ordinance being considered would designate the streets between 3rd and 9th Avenues, and L and Gambell Streets as a special district for no turning on a red light.
It comes at a time when some members of the Assembly also want to remove a portion of the Seward Highway that cuts through the Fairview neighborhood and is one of the major thoroughfares in Anchorage.
Volland, who moved to Anchorage from Seattle a few years ago, says that despite the improved safety standards in automobile design, pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have been on the rise nationwide. He and others who support this ordinance say all users have equal rights to the roadways.
The proposed ordinance, which will appear on Tuesday’s Anchorage Assembly regular agenda as a new item for a public hearing, is at this link. The Assembly meetings take place on the ground floor of the Loussac Library, at 36th and Denali Streets, starting at 5 pm and usually ending by 11 pm or before midnight.