Pedestrian death emphasizes importance of ‘crosswalk missions’

This is another example of why Portland Police and the City’s Transportation Bureau work to make street crossing safer for those on foot …

Police closed down SE Division Street for most of a day, while they investigated an accident in which a pedestrian was struck by an SUV.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Joseph “Joey” Randall Ransly Stone was crossing SE Division Street in a marked crosswalk at 156th Avenue at 8:51 a.m., on October 4, when he hit by an SUV driven by a 49-year-old man.

Stone was rushed to Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) with what officials described as “life-threatening injuries”; the driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, who later revealed that neither person was impaired by drugs or alcohol. No citations were issued or arrests were made in this case, which is still under investigation.

But, in the evening following the accident, the 25-year-old man known to friends and family as “Joey” Stone died at OHSU.

“The family’s deepest wish is that the city would place flashing lights at the crosswalk where he was hit,” said a family spokesperson.

One vehicle after another “challenges” Portland Bureau of Transportation Project Specialist Sharon White as she begins another “Pedestrian Crosswalk Mission” – this time at a well-marked crosswalk in the Centennial neighborhood.

Ten days before Joey Stone was killed, on September 25, Portland Bureau of Transportation Project Specialist Sharon White was being watched by members of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Traffic Division as they conducted another of their “Crosswalk Enforcement Actions” on SE 148th Avenue at Main Street.

Even though the Crosswalk Enforcement Action area is well-marked with a sign, a big red traffic cone, and red flag, drivers appear to ignore pedestrians – and meet stern-faced Traffic Division Officers with a ticket or warning in hand.

Unlike some past Crosswalk Enforcement Actions, this time, many drivers of cars, SUVs, and trucks failed to stop for pedestrians legally in the marked crosswalk. Some drivers appeared to “race” pedestrians, including White, to “beat them” through the traffic lane.

“This intersection is on the way to Parklane School!” White told East Portland News while waiting for Traffic Division Officers to return to their observation positions at this outer East Portland location.

“This is a pedestrian environment, and people going back and forth to get their kids are seen quite a bit here,” White pointed out. “And, our engineer told us that speeding is a real issue on the street as well.”

This government vehicle blows past Sharon White, swerving around her in the crosswalk

Drawing the attention of this Traffic Bureau Officer who rides off to write another citation.

During these missions, she observed, police ticket any violation they witness.

White said the crosswalk laws are relatively simple, and showed a brochure outlining the rules. [CLICK HERE to open an Adobe PDF Document of that brochure.] “To start, remember this rule that ‘Every intersection is a crosswalk’.”

Car after car whizzes past Sharon White, as she legally makes her way across the street in a crosswalk.

Traffic Division Officers get no rest during this mission, as they stop one pedestrian-bullying driver after another.

When turning at a traffic signal, drivers must:

  • Stop and remain stopped for pedestrians until the pedestrian has cleared the lane into which their vehicle is turning, plus at least 6 feet of the next lane.
  • At any other crosswalk – whether marked with paint, or unmarked – drivers must:
  • Stop and remain stopped for pedestrians until they have cleared the lane in which they are traveling (or into which the motorist is turning), and the next lane.
  • Stop and remain stopped for students as they are directed by a crossing guard.
  • Stop and remain stopped for a blind pedestrian using a white cane or a guide dog until the pedestrian is completely across the roadway.

But pedestrians also have responsibilities, White reminded:

“First, is to cross at legal intersections. But, a quirky thing about Oregon law is if you’re 150 feet or more from legal crosswalk, you can legally cross in the middle of the block – but you still want to watch for traffic!

“Secondly,” White continued, “is that pedestrians need to show an ‘intent to cross’.  This means ‘breaking an invisible plane that extends from the curb on up, by putting a foot, hand, or cane up – or perhaps motion with a stroller – to show an intention to walk, and that drivers need to stop for you.”

During the Crosswalk Enforcement Action, Traffic Division Officers say their enforcement effort is worthwhile if saves one pedestrian from injury or death.

After a mere 90 minutes of Ms. White ducking cars and dodging speeding trucks, the crosswalk enforcement action resulted in 21 Citations and 5 Warnings. These included:

14 citations for failing to stop for pedestrians (a fine of approximately $260);
1 “Driving while Revoked” arrest;
1 warrant arrest;
5 charges for cell-phone violations; and,
6 charges for license issues, such as driving without a license, or driving with a suspended license.

Especially now that stormy weather is upon us, and the days are growing ever shorter – be especially aware while driving outer East Portland streets. You might not be arrested for hitting and killing a pedestrian – but your life will surely change if you do, and not for the better.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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