‘Pedestrian mission’ shows dangers of crossing Sandy Blvd.

One would think that walking across NE Sandy Blvd. near The Grotto would be safe – but it isn’t. See what we saw, on a rainy afternoon …

A “sting” operation?  Not hardly – the boundaries of every “Pedestrian Crosswalk Enforcement Action” are marked with signs, cones – and red flags – like these.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A real lack of consideration by drivers for pedestrians crossing NE Sandy Boulevard – in crosswalks – was graphically illustrated as the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and Portland Police Bureau (PPB) on the afternoon of January 23.

One after another, vehicle drivers along the boulevard – sitting warm and dry inside their cars – blasted past those on foot, even in a pelting rainstorm.

Because of an increase in struck pedestrians, and reports of near misses, the team set up a “Pedestrian Crosswalk Enforcement Action” at the marked crosswalk just north of The Grotto on the wind-blown rainy Wednesday afternoon, just after 12:30 p.m.

Sharon White – a PBOT “designated walker” – takes her life into her hands as she tries to cross NE Sandy Boulevard.

During these missions, a PBOT “designated walker” is positioned at a crosswalk. Drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk – and even pedestrians who jaywalk – may be issued a warning or a citation by the Portland Police Bureau.

“It’s an opportunity to bring more awareness about Oregon crosswalk laws, and to remind drivers to watch for pedestrians in crossings,” remarked PBOT Active Transportation Section’s Sharon White.

“Prior to doing this enforcement action today, I stopped at some of the businesses here, along NE Sandy Boulevard,” White told East Portland News. “I reminded them to always watch for pedestrians, especially during the time of this enforcement, and offered them more information about our crosswalk laws.”

PPB Traffic Division’s Lt. Chris Davis recounted how a driver struck one of his family members in a crosswalk.

At the same time, PPB Traffic Division’s Lt. Chris Davis was putting on his rain gear, getting ready for the mission.

“PBOT has done a good job of making the mid-block pedestrian crossings more obvious,” Davis said. “I think the idea is for people to realize there is a crosswalk coming up – and to look out for pedestrians.”

At crosswalks – whether marked with white stripes, or simply any street corner – Davis advised drivers to reduce speed, and “pay a little more attention to what’s going on along the side of the road, so you’re not surprised by somebody crossing the street in front of you.”

Given plenty of time to stop, the driver of this SUV doesn’t – but continues eastbound …

… and zips by PBOT’s Sharon White, missing her by mere inches.

Since he joined the Traffic Division in September, 2012, Davis said the Traffic Investigation Unit has been out on numerous pedestrian-related accidents.

White spoke up, “From what I understand, we had 14 pedestrian deaths in Portland last year.”

Unlike fender-benders between vehicles, Lt. Davis pointed out that all vehicle vs. pedestrian collisions are typically “very serious, life-altering experiences for all involved. My wife was hit in a crosswalk, so I know from personal experience. These are not calls we like to get.”

At the appointed time, White looked for a clear spot in traffic, and stepped off the curb and into the crosswalk.

A PPB Traffic Division officer takes off after the errant SUV.

And, the SUV’s driver is quickly stopped by the officer for a roadside “consultation”.

Halfway across the street, a four-door silver SUV whizzed by her – the driver seemingly oblivious to a person being on foot in the crosswalk – passing here so closely, the wind from the vehicle ruffled her umbrella.

Minutes later, on her return trip across the street in the crosswalk, another vehicle nearly picked off White as she returned.

Taking a break, allowing officers to get back into position, White commented, “Clearly, drivers have a responsibility to stop for pedestrians in the street.”

“Pedestrians do also have responsibilities,” White added, watching traffic stream by at the mid-County location:

  • Cross at an intersection, or marked mid-block crossing.
  • Allow drivers adequate time and distance to stop.
  • Don’t just jump out, or start walking out when a vehicle doesn’t have time to stop.
  • Show an “intent to cross”. Put a foot, shopping cart, cane, or mobility device just past the curb into the crosswalk, as a signal you’re trying to cross the street.

Because of the severe weather that day, they called off the mission ahead of schedule.

Another pedestrian-bullying driver is about to meet one of “Portland’s Finest”.

“But, the Traffic Division ended up with 12 citations for Failure to Yield to the Pedestrian, and two warnings,” White later reported.

For any who question why East Portland News continues to publish stories regarding Pedestrian Crosswalk Enforcement Actions in outer East Portland, CLICK HERE. This link will take you to the story published just last week, entitled “Pedestrian dies in Montavilla crosswalk”.

And, if you wish to read up about Oregon’s crosswalk law, CLICK HERE to open an Adobe PDF file of this informative brochure.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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