Curbing death in the crosswalks: Police educate with “enforcement action”

See why traffic cops gave nine East Portland drivers a “$242 reminder” to yield to pedestrians at intersections ‚Ķ

Ignoring traffic laws, drivers whiz past PDOT’s Sharon White. She’s working with Portland Police’s Traffic Division to make drivers more mindful about stopping for pedestrians along Portland’s third most dangerous avenue ‚Äì for those on foot.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Those who drive along SE 82nd Avenue of Roses often don’t pay attention to pedestrians. In fact, on December 27, we witnessed several occasions in which those on foot ‚Äì walking within marked lanes, with a green light ‚Äì almost became another accident statistic.

“We’re out here today along 82nd Ave., in front of Eastport Plaza,” Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Commander Marty Rowley told us, “doing crosswalk safety mission in conjunction with PDOT.”

Clint Lenard, safety chair for Lents Neighborhood Association, and Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Commander Marty Rowley, as well as Lents volunteers Judy and John Welch, observe the crosswalk enforcement action along Eastport Plaza on 82nd Avenue of Roses.

Asked why this location was chosen, Rowley responded, “Sharon White, from the Portland Office of Transportation, has been researching pedestrian safety issues. The intersection of SE 82nd Avenue and Holgate Boulevard has the third-highest rate of  pedestrian accidents in the entire city.”

Rowley said that while PDOT workers are looking at this east-side pedestrian danger zone from an engineering perspective, “We came out to help educate the public by doing law enforcement.”

Ready to write (tickets)
“Specifically,” said Rowley, “we’re doing crosswalk enforcement, and looking at other violations by vehicle drivers ‚Äì disobeying traffic lights or making improper turns. It isn’t just to write tickets that we do this. We use this as an educational tool.”

Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division officers are looking for drivers ‚Äì and pedestrians ‚Äì who don’t follow the street crossing laws.

Vehicle drivers weren’t the only people being issued citations or warnings while we watched.

“We don’t discriminate against vehicle drivers during these special enforcements,” the traffic bureau commander told us. “If pedestrians are crossing illegally, they will be given a citation. Jay-walking isn’t a ‘right’ in Portland, although some people behave that way.”

Police say this young lady, pushing a stroller containing a toddler, dashed across the busy intersection at SE 82nd at Holgate – against the light! Because of her dangerous behavior, she received a traffic citation.

The bottom line, Rowley instructed, is that the laws of physics apply, whether a pedestrian is in the right or not. “When a pedestrian gets hit, they don’t fare very well. Pedestrians have to accept some responsibility for their safety. Part of a pedestrian’s responsibility is to make sure it’s safe to cross a roadway when they leave a sidewalk.”

At a signalized intersection, a pedestrian has the right of way to walk when the ‘hand’ sign is on. If there isn’t a signal at a crossing, he added, the pedestrian can’t just step out in traffic and expect to be given the right-of-way.

Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Officer Fort issues a citation for a driver who failed to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk ‚Äì she swerved around PDOT’s Sharon White and kept right on going.

28 actions taken in two hours
After working the intersection at SE Holgate Boulevard, the team moved to an unsignalized intersection in front of Eastport Plaza.

Sharon White, the PDOT researcher who identified the area as one of Portland’s most dangerous for walkers, took part in the enforcement action. Although she was dressed in a bright yellow rain slicker, cars and trucks simply whizzed past her.

Drivers who failed to yield for her were pulled over and issued a traffic citation carrying a $242 fine.

A total of 9 citations were issued for “Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian”, and the traffic cops wrote 19 more warning citations.

Did you know…?
At a signalized intersection, if the pedestrian is in the street, a driver must give pedestrians clearance of lane in which they’re traveling, plus six feet.

At unsignalized intersections, the pedestrian must first make sure it is safe to cross. Once a vehicle has stopped to allow them to cross, all other vehicles must also stop and let them cross, regardless of the lane, or direction of travel.

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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