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Crosswalk Enforcement for safety, on SE Division

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - PPB Traffic Division Sergeant Erin Smith examines a driver's license before issuing a traffic citation during the 'crosswalk enforcement mission' on Division Street.Most cars and trucks did stop to allow Sharon White to safely cross S.E. Division Street at 58th Avenue, in the crosswalk.

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

These crosswalk enforcement actions are held in different locations around the city every 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.”

It’s really not a “sting” operation, either. 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.

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 remarked.

“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 said.

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 the experience to be life-changing; and not for the better.

More information about the StreetSmart  Go Safe program is online at: www.portlandonline.com/StreetSmart