Sharon White is PDOT’s pedestrian safety chief. One of the many programs she oversees is an ongoing “crosswalk enforcement action” campaign. Working with the Portland Police Bureau, White and staff at PDOT identify high-risk intersections and then employ decoys to walk across them while officers stand by.
White is so committed to her work that often, she herself takes on the role of crosswalk guinea pig. A few weeks ago, during one of the enforcement actions, she got more than she bargained for.
In an email update about pedestrian and bike safety efforts, White told a harrowing story that took place at a SE Portland intersection (Division at 35th). At that event, the police handed out 10 warnings and 5 citations. As White explains below, 4 of those citations were given to one unruly vehicle operator (emphasis mine):
It is rare that I get scared during a Crosswalk Enforcement Action because I an generally very cautious and very alert. However, the last portion of this Crosswalk Enforcement Action did frighten me.
As usual, I proceeded into the crossing area as a pedestrian showing intent to cross and provided adequate time for the approaching eastbound vehicle to stop. I worked to make eye contact with the driver and when I finally got a clear view of the driver’s face could tell that he was looking at the storefront of the adjacent building and did not appear to be aware of me in the crossing. At about the same time, the driver’s vehicle veered a little to the north and then a little to the south pointing right at me. Since I had no indication that the driver was going to slow down or stop, I jumped out of the crossing and back onto the sidewalk.
“Instead of slowing down, the driver increased his speed.”
The police officer working on the Crosswalk Enforcement Action with us, put on his siren and headed onto Division to stop the driver and initiate a conversation about Oregon crosswalk laws. Instead of slowing down, the driver increased his speed, took the first right turn and then an immediate left into a dead end driveway where the police officer caught up with him.
As it ended up, there was a warrant out for his arrest for hit and run of a pedestrian! In addition to receiving 4 tickets, he was sent to jail.
Thanks Portland Police Traffic Division for a job well done!
And thanks to you Ms. White, for your dedication to making our streets safer.
For more on PDOT’s pedestrian and traffic safety programs, visit this page on PortlandOnline.com.