Beaverton police officer poses as 'decoy' pedestrian in crosswalk

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Steve Schaer, a traffic sergeant with the Beaverton Police Department, steps into the intersection of Southwest Hall Boulevard and Broadway Street after several motorists declined to yield the right of way at the crosswalk during a pedestrian enforcement operation.As he steps into the crosswalk at the Southwest Hall Boulevard at Broadway Street, Steve Schaer saves his waves for those drivers who stop their vehicle to let him cross the street.

“The only time I ever wave is when they do what they’re supposed to do,” he said. “I don’t wave people through.”

Schaer, a traffic sergeant with the Beaverton Police Department, didn’t do a lot of waving on Thursday morning, July 17.

Between 7:30 and 9 a.m., officers cited 45 drivers for crosswalk-safety violations during the department’s pedestrian safety detail, with another four receiving tickets for other safety violations, including using a communications device while driving and not wearing seat belts.

The goal of the operation, which involved seven police officers patrolling on motorcycles, was to remind and educate drivers of their responsibility to watch out for and yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections. by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The Beaverton Police Department last week performed a pedestrian enforcement operation at the intersection of Southwest Hall Boulevard and Broadway Street. Even with the advance notice provided by cones and signs, several motorists entered a crosswalk occupied by a 'decoy' pedestrian.

Oregon law requires drivers to stop when, according to Oregon Revised Statute 811.028, “any part or extension of the pedestrian, including but not limited to any part of the pedestrian’s body, wheelchair, cane, crutch or bicycle, moves onto the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed.”

If a pedestrian is in the process of crossing, turning motorists are required to stop and provide them space of the driving lane plus 6 feet before proceeding.

With Schaer, who dressed in shorts and a gray T-shirt, serving as a real-life pedestrian “decoy,” drivers headed north on Hall Boulevard were given warning through a sign reading “pedestrian enforcement operation ahead” and orange cones positioned about 30 feet south of the Broadway intersection.

“We’re just trying to get the public to see the problem,” Schaer said, noting he doesn’t “have a judgement on if the law is correct or not. We don’t want to get into any kind of trickery, or cutting (the warnings) too close. We want it to be as fair as we possibly can.”

As Schaer stepped into the crosswalk while looking at the oncoming vehicle, motorcycle officers pursued drivers who failed to stop and pulled them over in the blocks north of Broadway. A crosswalk citation subjects violators to a $260 fine, which can be waived if they take a one-hour class the police department conducts a couple times a month.

Several drivers told officers they didn’t see Schaer, the warning sign or the pylons, while others claimed they didn’t realize they were necessarily doing anything wrong.

“There was one who said, ‘Oh, I saw the guy and waved at him,’” said Marc Hevern, a motorcycle officer with the Beaverton Police Department.

More than apathy or ignorance, it’s the tunnel vision common to urban drivers that creates a disconnect.

“Most people drive off the hood of their car,” Hevern noted. “A lot of ‘em don’t think it’s a crosswalk. It doesn’t have to have stripes (at an intersection) to be considered a crosswalk.”

While it’s a good idea for pedestrians to make eye contact with drivers, that’s no guarantee it’s safe to cross a street.

“As a pedestrian, you can’t really see in, and they can’t see out,” he said.

Pedestrians, of course, have a responsibility to hold up their end of the traffic safety bargain.

ORS chapter 811.040 says pedestrians should not suddenly leave a curb as to “cause an immediate hazard.”

Officers remind pedestrians to wear bright colors and pay attention to the traffic flow when preparing to cross the road. Those on foot are also required to obey any traffic control device that directs movement.

“Pedestrians still have a responsibility to maintain their own safety,” Hevern said.

Officer David VanCleve, who cited one driver on Thursday for what he called a “hat trick” of violations — ignoring a pedestrian in a crosswalk, holding a cellphone and an expired registration — noted drivers tend to be oblivious of what’s going on around them.

“You’re in your own world,” he said. “Driving is not a part-time job.”

To learn more about Oregon’s pedestrian laws, visit

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