Cops catch drivers bullying pedestrians at major intersection

Discover why police set out to “educate” walkers and drivers on SE 82nd Avenue of Roses at Division Street …

A sign, traffic cone, and red flag let drivers clearly see that cops are keeping a close eye on the intersection ahead.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

For several years, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and Portland Police Bureau (PPB) have conducted crosswalk “safety education and enforcement” action stakeouts at locations where pedestrians are frequently injured or even killed.

But, for the first time ever, on February 17 the two Bureaus set up their gear at the corner SE 82nd Avenue of Roses and Division Street – one of the busiest intersections in all of East Portland.

A PPB Traffic Division officer rides back to the intersection after issuing another citation for bullying a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

That intersection is part of what PBOT calls a “High Crash Corridor” because of the high number of fatalities and injuries.

“From 2004 through 2015, there were 24 pedestrian crashes at or near SE 82nd Avenue and Division Street, and two pedestrian fatalities,” recounted PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera.

Many people cross these roads mid-block, instead of using the crosswalks at the intersections, Rivera observed. Approximately 26,100 vehicles travel on SE 82nd Avenue near Division each day.

It doesn’t take long for Traffic Division officers to fill their ticket books with citations for drivers who aren’t watching out for those on foot.

“Crossing mid-block at locations without enhanced crossing features can put people on foot, and those behind the wheel, at risk of a crash – especially if the roadway has multiple travel lanes, high traffic volumes, and high vehicle speeds,” Rivera said.

They’d hoped to educate, warn, or ticket jaywalking pedestrians making mid-block crossings, but no pedestrians were cited during this particular safety education and enforcement action.

However, watching the operation – and people crossing the street, in a crosswalk, with the traffic signal – made clear the danger pedestrians face every day at that intersection from drivers who show disregard for those on foot.

After breezing by this reporter, the errant driver is pursued by this Traffic Division officer.

With every change of the traffic signal, PPB Traffic Division officers – mostly riding motorcycles – spotted and pursued drivers who had blithely whizzed past pedestrians legally crossing the thoroughfare.

Those on foot, in crosswalks, dodged cars and trucks – primarily making turns – in every quadrant of the intersection.

“I don’t know if it’s just today, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many ‘near misses’ at an intersection,” a Traffic Division officer said to East Portland News – before again rolling out, lights flashing, after another driver who’d just zipped past a pedestrian.

This Traffic Division officer provides on-the-spot driver education for a driver who didn’t stop for a pedestrian in an outer East Portland crosswalk.

During our 90 minutes of observation, officers issued a number of citations:

  • Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device – 11
  • Seatbelt – 1
  • Careless Driving – 1
  • Driving While Suspended – 3
  • Driving Uninsured – 1
  • Unsafe Operation on Sidewalk – 1
  • Failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian – 1
  • No operator’s license – 1
  • Speeding – 1
  • Cell phone – 3
  • Seatbelt – 1

In case you didn’t know, “When vehicle drivers make a turn at an intersection with a signal, they must stop and stay stopped for pedestrians when they are less than six feet from the lane into which the driver’s vehicle is turning (ORS 814.010),” reminded Rivera.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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