‘Crosswalk Enforcement’ for pedestrian safety on SE Division St.

See why officers gave out more warnings than traffic tickets for drivers “bullying” pedestrians in crosswalks, in this East Portland mission …

That’s PDOT’s Sharon White is crossing SE Division Street in the crosswalk. Her presence doesn’t stop – or even slow – this driver.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Most cars and trucks stopped and allowed Sharon White to safely cross SE Division Street at SE 58th Avenue in the crosswalk.

But, during the ninety-minute “crosswalk enforcement action” on September 26, drivers of 18 vehicles were either cited or ticketed for whizzing past White, who is part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PDOT) Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership.

A Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division motorcycle officer goes after a driver who chose not to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

These crosswalk enforcement actions are held in different locations around the city each month, reminded PDOT’s Dan Anderson, to raise awareness of pedestrian safety and traffic laws.

“Many pedestrians cross at this intersection because of Atkinson Elementary School, Franklin High School, TriMet bus stops, and nearby restaurants and businesses,” Anderson added.

These signs and flags clearly warn that a “crosswalk enforcement action” is taking place.

It’s not a “sting” operation. White dutifully sets out signs – marked with red flags – about a block on either side of the crosswalk. Standing by, in this case, were seven Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Traffic Division motorcycle officers. They weren’t hidden either.

And, instead of playing “gotcha” with motorists, White waits for natural breaks in traffic before she starts to walk across the street. “Drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, and pedestrians who jaywalk [outside the crosswalk], may be issued a warning or citation,” Anderson explained.

Trucks and cars whiz by PDOT’s Sharon White, as she tries safely to make her way across SE Division Street – near a grade school!

Although he couldn’t be present during this particular crosswalk enforcement action, PPB Traffic Division’s Lt. Chris Davis is in charge of these missions – and he said that he has, himself, seen all too often the sad result a pedestrian- or bicycle-involved collision.

“When I’m dispatched to this kind of incident, [I wonder if] the vehicle failed to yield to the bicycle or pedestrian, or if the bicycle or pedestrian committed a traffic violation that either contributed to or caused the crash.”

Pedestrian compliance with traffic laws, and being able to be seen, are the two best ways for people to avoid being the victim of a pedestrian crash, Davis stated.

“For drivers, adhering to speed laws and ‘good situational awareness’ are the best ways to avoid hitting pedestrians,” Davis added. “This means reducing distractions – like cell phones and texting while driving.”

Also, a large number of pedestrian crashes seem to involve alcohol use by the motorist, the pedestrian, or occasionally both of them, he added.

PPB Traffic Division Sergeant Erin Smith examines a driver’s license before issuing a traffic citation during the “crosswalk enforcement mission” on Division Street.

PPB Traffic Division Sergeant Erin Smith, who coordinated the mission, tallied up the result:

  • 18 total citations (8 for crosswalk violations, the rest mainly for cell phone use while driving)
  • 10 warnings – all for crosswalk violations
  • 1 arrest for “Driving While Suspended – Misdemeanor” (That resulted in a towed car)

Any vehicle driver who hits a pedestrian or bicyclist – even if they are found blameless – will find it to be a life-changing incident; and one not for the better.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the “StreetSmart – Go Safe” effort.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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