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Noted bike lawyer pens pedestrian handbook

Posted by on December 3rd, 2007 at 2:15 pm

Community traffic safety action

A couple crosses at
NW 9th and Lovejoy.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

Local lawyer Ray Thomas, a tireless defender of bicyclist’s rights who most recently spoke at the We are All Traffic press conference, has released a new book to help educate that other group of vulnerable roadway users: pedestrians.

Oregon Pedestrian Rights is billed as a “legal guide for persons on foot.” The 96 page book includes several articles written by Thomas including basic dos and don’ts for pedestrians, what Oregon law says about pedestrians on bike lanes and sidewalks, and much more.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction,

“…pedestrian deaths totaled one-third of all traffic fatalities in the City of Portland in 2006; eleven pedestrians are killed and more than 300 injured in Oregon each year while attempting to exercise their lawful right of way to cross the road within a crosswalk…While an argument can be made that these injuries and deaths would be reduced if pedestrian access were restricted by placing more humans into enclosed steel vehicles, the vitality of the human race mandates movement in the opposite direction – streets need to be made safer for pedestrians and humans need to use their bodies to transport themselves.”

The Oregon Pedestrian Handbook was produced by Thomas’ firm Swanson, Thomas, & Coon, and serves as a fitting companion to his popular Pedal Power, A Legal Guide for Oregon Bicyclists, and Action Pamphlet #1 (which details the “Citizen Initiation of Violation” process).

All three guides are available online. You can download a PDF of Pedal Power and/or read all the chapters from Oregon Pedestrian Rights at OregonPedestrianRights.com.

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10 Comments
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    RyNO Dan December 3, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Are cars required to stop if a pedestrian is waiting to cross at an unmarked (without crosswalk) intersection ?
    I really wish that \”hand up to make
    cars stop\” law had passed. I just do
    it anyway. –DanS–

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    tonyt December 3, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Dan,

    ORS 801.220 specifies that a crosswalk exists at ANY public intersection whether marked or unmarked. There do NOT have to be lines on the street for there to be a crosswalk.

    Obviously, traffic signals take priority at controlled intersections, but other than that, peds have the right of way.

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    Moo December 3, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    I never understood why more peds. don\’t use lights in the dark to be seen when running through traffic. Some put them on their dogs, but forget about themselves. What\’s that about?

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    Options Guy December 3, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    I think RyNO Dan\’s question is answered on page 74 of the new pamphlet. The side-note says, \”Unfortunately, when a pedestrian is wanting to cross in a crosswalk without a walk/don\’t walk signal the pedestrian must still enter the crosswalk to trigger the right of way, a dangerous and confusing requirement because the only way to tell if vehicles are going to stop is to enter the roadway.\”
    I agree with RyNO Dan – as much as the \”hailing a cab\” hand signal was maligned during the last legislative session, it would have given a clearer and safer way to exercise a ped\’s right-of-way.

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    Cøyøte December 4, 2007 at 8:42 am

    There is a part of me that is appalled that someone felt the need to write this manual. It saddens me that we have become so uncivilized that walking requires a user’s manual. I am not trying to scold Mr. Thomas; the manual is likely a noble effort. However, for me the existence of this manual is a chilling social comment on the barbaric concessions we have made for cars.

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    a.O December 4, 2007 at 8:42 am

    I\’m with you guys. It\’s important to remember that you (the ped) only have the right-of-way if you\’re in the street. They\’re not actually required to stop for you if you\’re on the sidewalk.

    When I\’m driving, I always stop anyway to reinforce the ped right-of-way idea. But we really would benefit from the hand signal.

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    zora d. December 4, 2007 at 9:01 am

    not only are cars not required to stop if the ped is on the sidewalk, on most streets in this town the curb lane is filled with parked cars, so a driver often can\’t see pedestrians on the sidewalk.

    assuming we actually had the hand signal, what if it included flashing a light after dark?…like they suggest for flagging a trimet bus

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    Matt Picio December 4, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    C0y0te, I agree with you that it\’s a sad state that something like this *needs* to be written, but it\’s not a user\’s manual, it\’s a legal manual – the whole point is to advise pedestrians of their legal rights when something goes wrong, and what they\’re expected to do out there on the streets in order to preserve their own legal rights.

    Unfortunately, the law has grown so complex something like this is needed in order to negotiate it. I agree, it really doesn\’t paint society or \”common sense\” in a good light.

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    revphil December 4, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    I remember something about pedestrians crossing a street close to, but not in a crosswalk have fewer protections than a pedestrian who is further from a crosswalk.

    I think it was made so that if you were in the middle of the block one could cross the street and would not have to walk as far to be safe, but im not sure that is how it is interpreted.

    thanks for making it available ray. looks like a great day for a sidewalk release party.

    maybe they will pass them out during santacon.

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    Gabrielle April 21, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    I have noticed that a lot of people are more focused on Bicyclist\’s rights so I appriciate that somebody is telling the world about pedestrian\’s rights. I cannot count the number of times that I have almost been hit or had my dog almost get hit when I was walking my dog, (yes he was on a leash). It is absolutely ridiculous that people are so rude. I hate it when drivers creep closer to you with every step that you take even when you are in a cross walk. I don\’t think they realize just how rude it is. It\’s almost like they don\’t have any idea how dangerous it is for those of us who do walk everywhere. I honestly think that drivers should have to take at least a day where they walk while those of us who normaly walk drive and show them how rude they really are. For those drivers reading this just remember \”Treat others how you would like to be treated\”. Thank you for taking the time to read this and have a wonderful day.

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