In a statement to BikePortland that he also posted to his Facebook page, Reardon said, “I am pleased that this public service ad has captured people’s attention. It is a tongue-in-cheek approach to the tragic reality of pedestrian injuries and fatalities.”
But as victims of traffic crashes, advocates for vulnerable road users, and experts in the communications and safety fields from all over the country and the world have pointed out to him in the past two days, the much more serious problem is that our roads are dominated by people in large motor vehicles who have no regard for the safety of others.
On Tuesday, the same day Rep. Reardon launched his campaign, police officers in his district actually did something about the problem.
The Happy Valley Police Department just released a statement about a crosswalk enforcement action they completed on August 8th. The mission specifically targeted automobile users at two high-risk intersections. Police say they were spurred into action by citizen complaints that people’s high-speed driving was putting walkers at risk.
Using volunteers as decoys, the officers watched and waited for people who “egregiously” violated Oregon crosswalk laws.
Happy Valley Police Chief Scott Anderson said, “I also acted as decoy for a few minutes, and one car was cited while I tried to cross the road in full uniform.”
Here’s more from the Chief:
“Several citizens on foot thanked us for enforcing the crosswalk laws, saying they’d seen violations in the past. School is about to start, and there will be kids using crosswalks soon. Two pedestrians have been killed this year already in Happy Valley, although not in crosswalks. But of the traffic complaints we get, crosswalk violators are a common subject.”
The mission included four officers total and resulted in 18 crosswalk citations and three written warnings. They also cited three people for driving with a suspended license, one person who was driving without insurance, one person for failing to stop at a stop sign, and one person for using a cell phone while driving.
Responsibility for staying safe on our roads falls upon each and every person that uses them. Everyone with a brain can agree on that. But people in positions of power and leadership like Rep. Reardon need to make good decisions about how to present this issue to the public. A one-sided campaign that blames only one type of road user while normalizing dangerous and illegal behaviors of another will only make Chief Anderson’s job a lot more difficult — and tragic — in the future.
UPDATE, 8/15 at 2:30 pm: Reardon will pull down the campaign.
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