What does it take for people to stop when someone’s trying to cross the road?
How about being on a commercial corridor full of shops? Maybe crosswalks with median islands and flashing lights? Perhaps a pandemic that asks everyone to lighten the load of first responders and hospitals? How about the presence of police officers – one of whom is acting as a decoy?
It seems not even these things work for some people who are so selfish and rude they ignore Oregon law and put innocent lives at risk.
Yesterday the Portland Police Bureau held one of their infamous “pedestrian safety crosswalk missions” at two locations in southeast Portland. In the five hours between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm on Foster and Hawthorne they stopped 46 people. 27 people received citations and 19 earned just a written warning. Seven people were cited for driving on a suspended license.
The PPB used a decoy to set up the mission. The decoy crossed on foot at SE Foster and 65th and then at SE Hawthorne and 38th.
The Hawthorne intersection is five blocks from where 15-year-old Fallon Smart was struck and killed in 2016. It has a painted crosswalk and signs warning people of the presence of people on foot.
65th and Foster is a deadly intersection with a long history of crashes. It’s also six blocks from a crash last year that claimed the life of 82-year-old nearby resident Lou Battams as she tried to walk across the street.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has partnered with the PPB Traffic Division on these crosswalk missions for 15 years now. Read more about the program in our profile on their 10th anniversary in 2015.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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Wondering how your earn a written warning?
Profiling? Being extra nice?
It’s good to know that during a stay at home order, 15% of the drivers out there people who choose to go out with a suspended license. I’m starting to think we need to just have random checkpoints set up all over the city to check for licenses, registration, and proof of insurance on a daily basis.
I’d guess that the overlap between suspended license and “essential worker” is really high.
Failure to pay a fine, failure to appear, does Oregon still suspend for failure to pay child support? Probably overlaps quite a bit with unsteady, low paying, if you call off you’ll be fired type work.
I had someone slow down their car and scream at me for waiting to cross the street at an unmarked crosswalk with two small children. It was 4 blocks in either direction to the nearest marked crossing, and we were just waiting for a gap in traffic. I wouldn’t be shocked if a majority of Oregon drivers do not know the law here.
They do conduct the stings at unmarked crossings.
I only know of once when PPD conducted a crosswalk enforcement action at an unmarked crosswalk, at 47th and Belmont. Please enlighten us about more unmarked crosswalk enforcement! And then tell us about the ones they do at night, during rush hour. Those are also pretty rare.
Here’s a list for your reading pleasure.
That would only matter if they did enough stings where that mattered.
Paikiala: Thanks for the list. It seems I’ve tried to get that in the past from PBOT, but couldn’t. I’ll look through it.
It’s incorrect to say that 15% of the drivers out there have suspended licenses.
15% of the drivers who were stopped for failing to yield to decoy pedestrians during this operation had suspended licenses.
I’m willing to wager that the actual fraction of active drivers with suspended licenses is much lower than 15%. And I’d wager that the cohort is over-represented in this sample because the selection is biased towards behaviors that lead to license suspension.
This is true. I’d guess the real number is under 10%.
I have no doubt someone would be against it because of racial profiling.
Like at the gas pump – before you can put gas in your car.
Pesky little thing called the fourth amendment.
i’m glad this happened. thanks!
More of this, please!
Jonathan, it isn’t uncommon for you to refer to people in automobiles as “selfish” and “rude,” and I’m wondering from a journalistic viewpoint what is gained by making judgements on their moral character?
Hi Squeaky Wheel,
Yes it’s very uncommon. Actually I really **try to** never do that. Please read more carefully and you’ll see that you are projecting your own assumptions into my writing. I was very intentional to not assign any specific vehicle user to those adjectives. Those words apply to any road user who might have been stopped, whether they were in a car or on a bike or riding a skateboard!
And I do feel that sometimes it’s OK for me to make judgments on people. I’m not the type of journalist who feels like they have to always avoid stating the harsh truth. And IMO it’s very true and factual (and necessary for people to hear in a direct way!) that too many road users are selfish and rude and that our system and culture must to a better job to change those behaviors.
**try to** was added a few minutes later as an edit.
Search results for selfish
46 results found.
New one-time user name (sock puppet) account found.
Search results for rude
164 results found.
What is your point? I’m not denying I use the words “selfish” and “rude” and that sometimes I direct them at specific vehicle users. I misspoke in my other comment with “never”. In some contexts I think it’s warranted. In others, like this one, it’s not.
Also, it’s nice being an independent media outlet with no boss or oversight because it means I can make decisions about words I use all by myself. I think it serves the community well. If you disagree, let’s talk about that.
What are the odds that there are two users, with the names Selfish and Rude, who in turn searched your site for those same exact words? Weird. Anyway, that wasn’t me.
You are a wordsmith, Jonathan. Anyone who reads this site must know that, and I appreciate it about you. My question was from one wordsmith to another. You can deny my premise rather than answer my question, I suppose, or perhaps you can try to wiggle out of it and tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about, but not much is gained by the way of conversation from those tactics. And I’m not even going to touch your “I’m my own boss and no one is here to stop me” response.
Sorry Squeaky Wheel if I’m a bit testy about this stuff. I just want people to read what I write and not read into what I write.
You aren’t touching on it because you have no leg to stand on. It is a fact.
“Making judgments on people” is not the same as “stating the harsh truth”. One is a moral evaluation (i.e. an opinion), the other a reflection of fact.
It is an opinion that not stopping for pedestrians is “selfish and rude” (one that I share), but it is not “the truth”. Unless, of course, it is an opinion that I express, then you should treat is as factual.
To be clear, I think your reporting is generally quite good, (though I wish you more clearly separated opinion and fact — perhaps sticking to facts in the write up, and adding your opinion in the comments section); I recognize it’s your blog and you can write what you want.
There is nobody who is more selfish and rude than a Portland pedestrian. Yeah, your choice of words are quite funny sometimes. If you hate it the kid gloves are off. In regards to peds, check out any intersection in the “Pearl”. No look, no stop, no class.
I find your world view perplexing and disturbing.
I’m sure we could find someone.
People who don’t stop their cars for people walking across the street in a marked crosswalk are selfish and rude. It’s an objective fact. JM is not asserting that all drivers are selfish and rude.
People are doing things like not yielding for SOME reason. If it’s not out of selfishness or rudeness, it’s for something else. Lack of awareness of the law? Blacking out? No brakes? Those seem so much less likely than selfishness or rudeness that being direct and using those terms is more straightforward and direct communication, which I appreciate in the articles here.
You can also make the case that the behavior is selfish and rude even if the reason for doing it may be something else. As an example, someone at a social event may not be talking to you because they’re rude, and think you’re not worth the bother, or it may be that they really want to, but are socially anxious, and cannot. But it’s not wrong to say the behavior is still rude, even if the cause is anxiety.
If you say well, it’s not wrong, but it’s important to your understanding of the situation to know the “why” of the behavior, I’d say, well, bikeportand does a generally great job of analyzing the “why”s of driving and biking behavior. The many crash analysis articles are just one example.
I think at least some of the time*, a pedestrian waiting to cross simply doesn’t register on the driver’s awareness until it’s too late for an easy stop. Not interested in moralizing here, but if you want to discuss the limits of human cognition or other sciency theories, I’m all in.
*No way to know if that happened in any of the cases here, and it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a ticket.
I would argue that if one were not selfish, one would drive responsibly, which includes driving at a speed low enough to allow for reaction time. It would also include scanning intersections, being aware that there are road users other than one*self*, who may be trying to cross the street.
I would argue that our cognitive limitations (including difficulty of focusing on routine tasks for long periods of time) explain most of the driving behavior we see much better than moral failings such as “selfishness”.
I agree with Mark that the failure to focus, continually, on boring tasks, is the fault of drivers, who need to actually be hyper-vigilant, when driving on city streets with many intersections (marked or unmarked) or midblock crosswalks. But part of it, of course, is also our design of roads that allow, and encourage, faster speeds, that require looking 2 blocks ahead for pedestrians attempting to cross. Rather than put chicanes on Chavez, we lower the speed limit. Not sure how much it helps, except with constant enforcement. Narrowing lanes, and putting jogs in them to ensure low speeds, seems necessary in places where there are crossings.
I’m sure there’s some truth to that, but even when that’s the case, it’s still accurate to call the behavior (not yielding for a pedestrian when a fully alert person would have been able to) rude. If I cut in at the checkout line–not because I think my time is more important than yours, but because I wasn’t paying attention due to whatever reason, my behavior of cutting in line is still rude.
I’m saying this because it goes back to my feeling that Jonathan’s using “rude” or “selfish” to describe bad driving actions is fine in my view even if the reason for the behavior may not be rudeness or selfishness.
Sure, call it rude, but, when discussing these issues, I’m not sure it’s helpful. Condemnation feels good, but it doesn’t help me understand why otherwise polite and considerate people behave differently when driving.
For me, understanding is the first step to solving, even though judgmentalism is much more in fashion.
I agree it’s important to understand the reasons for the actions. And this site does a good job with that. There are regularly articles about the “why”s behind actions–in the crash analysis articles, for instance, or in the evaluations of police reports.
I think it’s still valuable to call an action rude or selfish even if the reason for the behavior causing the action is something “non-moral” like inattention. Even if the people who need to hear it most may not be reading it here, there’s value in reminding people who are at the receiving end of the behavior that the behavior is rude or selfish.
Let’s just take it as a given that the behavior is rude (because almost all of us agree it is), and focus on how to change it.
7 out of 46 stops driving on a suspended license? WTF? Roughly 15% of motorists driving with suspended licenses. And cited? Not arrested? The car cancer is deep.
To be fair, it is possible that the percentage of driver’s with suspended licenses is lower for the drivers who did stop for the pedestrian. Never-the-less, I found that statistic shocking as well.
You could also make the argument that people with a suspended license would be more careful, so they don’t get caught. However, I don’t think I buy that one myself, because my guess is people are used to the fact that getting stopped for something like not yielding to a pedestrian is so unlikely it’s not worth worrying about.
Were the cars being operated by the suspended drivers towed from the scene? If not, why?
I doubt it. They probably had the driver park their car and “call” someone to come get them and their car. What actually happens, police drive away and person shortly after walks back to drive their car to wherever.
You think Oregon drivers are bad? Georgia just suspended all driver license tests. Just fill out an application form and pay the fee. That’s it!
Road trip to Georgia! Who’s in?
Depends. Is your license suspended?
Not yet, but I’m working on it!
I work on the block where the Hawthorne sting was and I HATE that crosswalk.
People traveling east on Hawthorne should not be able to turn left onto 38th. They are turning onto a sidestreet to get to the Fred Meyer parking lot and it is always dangerous.
Additionally, people driving south on SE 38th should not be able to turn left onto Hawthorne. It is too is so dangerous with the number of pedestrians who walk in this area.
But the only thing that would stop them is if PBOT put in a pedestrian island and I don’t see that happening anytime soon even with the Hawthorne redesign plan.
@Amy W: I wonder if an island at 38th (north leg) could be added during the 3-lane cross-section conversion that PBOT is considering. I’d also like one at 38th (south leg) intersection, but am afraid that because of the taper leading into the left turn lane at Chavez, that there wouldn’t be enough room.
Search results for “car”
10245 results found.
Let’s incorrectly assume all 164 instances of rude are connected with the behavior of people driving cars. They’re not in case anyone cares to check.
“rude” results in 164/10245=0.0160078086871645 or 1.6%.
“selfish” results in 46/10245=0.0044899951195705 or 0.45%.
A full analysis could be productive and allow the conversation to continue with facts instead of emotion. Return with a full report and Jonathan can then dig into it further.
This is a laugh because the police can’t be bothered to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks! I was crossing Holgate a while back from the Max stop to the east bound bus stop. I was about to cross but a cop car just rolled through. As I pointed out the cross walk the cop just shrugged his shoulders and kept on driving! No wonder drivers are so unsafe around here with such good examples being provided by the police force! What a fucking joke!
Years ago I was trying to cross in the (then) unmarked crosswalk at NW Broadway and Davis, and I yelled at one driver. A cop who did in fact stop for me said “It’s not a crosswalk”. I told him yes it was, and got his car number and told Central Precinct that they should train their officers better. I have no idea if they did. The traffic cops do seem to know about unmarked crosswalks now, but don’t seem to think they should enforce them.
A Faustian Bargain, having ventured down this path of having two classes of crosswalks.