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Entering 10th year, PBOT ‘crosswalk enforcement actions’ still going strong

Posted by on January 28th, 2015 at 11:01 am

Crosswalk enforcement action NE Killingsworth-2

The warnings don’t seem to stop folks from breaking the law.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

While everyone likes to argue about which type of roads users break more laws — and we are currently being forced to have the tired debate all over again thanks to a well-intentioned but misguided legislative concept — the Portland Bureau of Transportation is doing their part to address the issue.

PBOT’s Crosswalk Enforcement Action program has been going strong since 2005. We checked in on one back in September and have reported on them many times over the years. The idea is simple: Place a human decoy (sometimes a notable politician but more often PBOT safety staffer Sharon White) in a crosswalk and wait for people to break the law while a phalanx of Portland Police motorcycle officers wait in the wings, armed with radar guns and quick twists of the throttle to chase people down.

The efforts are usually quite fruitful and they offer us a small window into the rampant disregard many road users have for the law.

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According to PBOT records, in 11 separate crosswalk enforcement actions in 2014, the police pulled over 319 people (most of the actions last 1-2 hours). Of those traffic stops, 251 people were given citations and 68 others received warnings. The vast majority of the citations were written for violation of Oregon’s crosswalk law (ORS 811.028 a.k.a. “failure to stop and stay stopped for a pedestrian”). The other most common violations are use of a cell phone, speeding, not using a seatbelt, and so on.

PBOT doesn’t keep track of what type of vehicle people were operating, but given the volume of biking and driving on these streets and what I’ve seen at these events first-hand, the vast majority of the citations go to drivers.

xwalksyieks

Detail from PBOT records on crosswalk enforcement action results.
-Download last 10 years of records here

At their most recent enforcement action, which took place on December 16th at E Burnside and 24th, the Portland Police handed out 42 violations in just 1.5 hours. Here’s the breakdown (via PBOT): 22 Fail to Stop and Remain Stopped for Pedestrian, 2 Passing a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk, 5 Lighting violation, 3 Cellphone, 2 License violation, 2 Failure to obey traffic control device, 2 Expired tags, 1 Fail to drive in lane, 1 Proof of insurance, 1 Seatbelt, 1 U-turn.

Think that one’s bad? On June 27th, 2014, an action at SE Powell and 31st resulted in 55 citations. Here’s the breakdown of their haul that day: 45 failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian, 2 failure to carry proof insurance, 2 speeding, 1 DWS, 2 failure to use seatbelt, 9 cell phone violation.

Yikes! This is a huge problem! If we just required everyone to get a license, get tested on the rules of the road, and have their vehicles registered with the State of Oregon this would whole problem would go away! (That was a joke.)

And what makes this more amazing is that PBOT actually broadcasts the locations ahead of time both via media statements and on the road with signage alerting people that a special enforcement zone lies ahead.

Today PBOT and their partners at PPB are headed out to SW Capitol Highway and Miles for this year’s first enforcement action. They’ll be there from 1:00 to 2:30. According to PBOT, This location was chosen “at the request of the community, which has been active in educating and encouraging drivers to be alert, aware and slow down.”

— See a recap of every enforcement action since 2005 via this PBOT document.

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Adam H.
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Adam H.

Thanks for looking out for our safety, PBOT! Keep up the great work!

Daniel L
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Daniel L

I very much like that they do these, but I think that the number of citations they continue to yield even after 10 years of doing them is proof that enforcement is minimally effective at changing overall driver behavior.

J_R
Guest
J_R

I object to the characterization of “going strong.” The number of enforcement actions is fewer than one per month! And, they last only a couple hours. I’d call it “lip service” that allows them to claim that they are doing something to “protect” vulnerable road users.

Given the rampant disregard for the law every time they conduct an enforcement action, there should be at least one enforcement per week!

I see motorists failing to yield to pedestrians (often myself) EVERY day. I sometimes stand in the street clearly visible to oncoming motorists as ten pass me before one finally yields.

Besides having a crosswalk enforcement every week, I have another suggestion: Require the motorists who fail to yield to serve as a “decoy pedestrian” (under the guidance of Sharon White or whoever is in charge) for a subsequent crosswalk enforcement action. Let the scofflaw motorist who fails to yield have the actual experience of being a pedestrian.

Finally, I hope that a motorist who passes a motorist who has stopped for a pedestrian gets multiple citations, maybe including reckless driving. That passing maneuver is a really dangerous action for pedestrians.

Scott H
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Scott H

I absolutely love that PBOT organizes these crosswalk enforcements.

chasingbackon
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chasingbackon

Anybody have the tel number for Portland Police to request an enforcement action? The marked crosswalk at 75th or 76th and Powell is terrible. thanks

Gumby
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Gumby

The big stick approach doesn’t work unless they can ticket a lot of people over an extended period of time, which would be very expensive.

TonyT
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Tony T

A while back I did some research on the types of crosswalks where these enforcements were done and, if memory serves, approximately 90% were done at marked crosswalks. I for one am at a loss as to why the vast majority of these enforcements are done at marked crosswalks while the vast majority of crosswalks are unmarked.

The knowledge level as to the right of way for people crossing at unmarked crosswalks is a sick joke. I have had drivers accelerate at me at unmarked crosswalks and proceed to scream that where I was crossing was not a crosswalk.

Focusing so much on marked crosswalks really only serves to reinforce the notion that the only “real” crosswalk is a marked one.

Please, please, please, PBOT, the ratio of enforcements at marked crosswalks should roughly match the ratio of marked crosswalks in the city. This is an issue of nearly unanimous ignorance and I really don’t see you doing anything to combat it.

Kyle
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Kyle

I’m happy to see these taking place. As a pedestrian I’m often appalled at how many people fail to stop. It’s particularly bad at unmarked intersections – which are crosswalks legally – but it astonishingly happens frequently at marked crossings as well. One thing I’ve found that helps is looking directly at the drivers and throwing a hand towards them, motioning to “stop.” Sometimes they get crankier but it has a much higher success rate. It seems that some actual communication towards drivers can momentarily remind them that there’s a world outside their big metal box.

Brad
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Brad

Scofflaw motorists! No more funding for auto infrastructure until all drivers obey the rules! Haha, but seriously, passing a stopped car at a crosswalk is an action that really pisses me off.

SW
Guest
SW

The crosswalk on se122nd (at the library) sure needs one ..it’s terrible ,,,+ the city has planted trees to the on comong lane side by the curb that obstructs the view

Dan
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Dan

If you’re in a car, you are more important than someone in shoes. /sarcasm

John Stephens
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John Stephens

I would think the only way to suggest these programs are really working and worth the money is to gauge if they are truly changing drivers’ behavior. And to do that, the PPB would need to run the same sting at the same amount of time at least twice in a row. If the number of citations are less, then something’s working. If the number of citations are higher, I don’t think we can say these stings are having any real impact.

Dave
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Dave

Brad
Scofflaw motorists! No more funding for auto infrastructure until all drivers obey the rules! Haha, but seriously, passing a stopped car at a crosswalk is an action that really pisses me off.
Recommended 7

Seriously…………..I like the idea of punishing the whole class for the deeds of the worst kids. Auto theft and vandalism should cease to be crimes worthy of police time until there is one full year without any pedestrian killings.

PdxMark
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PdxMark

Not to defend motorists who fail to stop for crossing pedestrians, but my understanding of the law in Oregon is that the pedestrian must make a move toward entering a crosswalk to impose the duty for a motorist to stop. Standing at a crosswalk doesn’t count. It’s crazy, but I think motorists don’t have to stop if the pedestrian is just standing there…

But a step off the curb is enough, and usually still well away from putting one’s self into the line of moving cars…

The corollary, when driving, is to be aware of pedestrians just standing at sidewalks, and stopping for them even if they aren’t yet stepping off the curb. The only downside to this is that, once in awhile, someone really is just standing there…

Dave
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Dave

9watts
🙂
http://bikeportland.org/2011/08/16/commissioner-fritz-no-to-bike-share-until-dangerous-behaviors-subside-57753
Recommended 0

Methinks old Mandy can’t really see who is doing the greater harm.

inwe
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inwe

I have to agree with a lot of the sentiments here. On my average daily work commute (15 minutes on foot each way, from the western edge of downtown to Northwest), I could tally more “citations” than any one of these enforcement actions. Failure to stop for pedestrians, failure to stop at stop signs, illegal turns and u-turns, cell phones, seat belts, missing plates, you name it. Crossing Burnside at 21st Place, even with the marked crosswalk and adjacent construction, I might wait for as many as 15 cars to blow by before a responsible/decent driver stops as required by law.

Paul
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Paul

I love it when you step into the roadway to cross and the driver just goes around you like you’re a pothole.

rachel b
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rachel b

“Yikes! This is a huge problem! If we just required everyone to get a license, get tested on the rules of the road, and have their vehicles registered with the State of Oregon this would whole problem would go away! (That was a joke.)”

Har! 🙂 Much enjoyed.

onegearsnear
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onegearsnear

Great they’re cracking down on crosswalk enforcement with pedestrians but what about bicycles lawfully using crosswalks (even walking the bike) only to be ignored as we’re not considered “pedestrians”?

I have a horrible time trying to cross Cesar E Chavez at Ankeny on my daily commute even though the signs show bikes and peds. I had a PDX cop stop in the opposite lane and when no other cars would yield, turned on his emergency lights shaking his head that everyone was so oblivious.

I even filed an incident report with TriMet for the same intersection when a driver was caught on tape failing to yield while I was midway and almost running me down while all other lanes had stopped for some time. The supervisors response was that I was a “bicyclist and they only have to yield for pedestrians” and that I “need to be more careful”. Wth?…

caesar
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caesar

While I find this story and subsequent comments about cars and pedestrians very interesting and informative, I don’t really see the direct relevance to cyclists – other than as pointed out by onegearsnear above (i.e. those rare situations when a cyclist dismounts and walks the bike through a crosswalk).

Scott Kocher
Guest

Got questions for the City about crosswalk enforcement? Got ideas for improving compliance? Send them my way and I’ll put them in the mix for the Pedestrian Advisory Committee. scott[at]forumlawgroup.com or 5oh3-445-2102. Thanks for the shout-out Rebecca ;).

Doug Klotz
Guest
Doug Klotz

I’ve been advocating every year that from October to March, when there are evening commutes in darkness, that’s the timing when that months’ the enforcement actions should occur. The one on Powell at 45th a couple of years ago (a marked crosswalk), yielded a much higher ticket count than most of the other actions (especially the ones from 1:00 to 2:30 in the afternoon).

Doug Klotz
Guest
Doug Klotz

That was at 54th, not 45th. Even has a median to make it safer.

SW
Guest
SW

I experience my own version of that Pemco “4 way stop” commercial most every time I ride the East side section of SpringWater.

Get to an intersection where I have the STOP sign , I stop. Crossing traffic does NOT have the STOP sign , yet they stop , wave me through and wait till I’ve crossed.

About all I can do at that point is to go and give them a “wave of thanks”

Kelly Francois
Guest
Kelly Francois

I live in Sullivan’s Gulch, and I’m surrounded by unmarked crosswalks where rarely anyone stops. Try crossing 3 one-way lanes of Broadway in any of the unmarked crosswalks, it’s ridiculous. Or Weidler. Those are both treated like highways slamming through my neighborhood, drivers driving so fast they barely notice me as they are speeding past my upraised arm, signaling my desire to cross. This area has a high concentration of mobile elderly residents. Imagine the horror of watching an elderly man scurrying across Broadway with cars barreling down the “highway” – it’s horrifying. My son almost got hit crossing 21st at Clackamas crossing from the trimet bus stop, in a dense residential area, b/c a car stopped going one direction but the driver in the other direction wasn’t paying attention and didn’t even slow down.

SW
Guest
SW

Spiffy
I hate when that happens when you get dumped off the Springwater onto Crystal Springs Blvd and you’re at the stop sign under I-205 waiting to turn left… so many people stop there and obstruct traffic while trying to wave me through…

but you’re probably talking about places like where the Springwater crosses Harney… the MUP has a stop sign, which to me indicates that any vehicles on the path need to stop and remain stopped until traffic is clear…
Recommended 1

Actually it mostly happens at Springwater & Stevens ….about mile & half West of there (on the flats , about where JC has a hump, slightly East of PreCast)

Randall S.
Guest
Randall S.

What the chart says to me is that even when people are notified in advance that they are watching for a specific type of violation at a specific place during a specific time, there’s still scores of people breaking the law.

Imagine how many people do it when there’s no one watching.