For a guide to current pedestrian law, click here.
Crosswalk Safety Bill Passes in 2011
A Crosswalk Safety Bill (SB 424) put forward by Oregon Walks during the 2011 legislative session will help people get across the street more safely. The current law - ORS 822.028 - can be found here.
The Crosswalk Safety Bill (Senate Bill 424) clarified by defining when a pedestrian is "crossing the roadway" and therefore given the legal right of way to cross. Once any part of the pedestrian's body -- such as a wheelchair, cane or crutch -- moves onto the roadway with the intent to proceed, the responsibility for a motorist to stop is triggered.
Safe crossings was a top priority identified by our region's residents in the Oregon Walks Getting Around on Foot Action Plan. People want to be able to get across the street safely, but this can be a daunting task that many feel uncomfortable doing.
Given that people driving often do not yield right of way to people in crosswalks, the need for a law that allows someone to signal intent while still in a place of safety, like on a sidewalk, is crucial.
Ray Thomas and Jim Coon described the need for a better crossing law:
"It is not until [a person is] "crossing the roadway in a crosswalk" that the law grants them their legal right of way to safe passage. And no one feels safe walking out in front of speeding traffic, so the pedestrians stand at the curb, often looking forlorn, wistful or angry as they watch cars approach and pass. If the pedestrians could only exercise their legal right of way without having to step in front of speeding traffic, then pedestrians could signal their intent to cross, watch as approaching traffic slows and stops for them, and then continue."
Oregon Walks looks forward to working with city agencies to use the clarified law to educate all road users.
Stop and Stay Stopped Law
Oregon Walks was instrumental in passing the Stop and Stay Stopped law under Senate Bill 315 in 2003.
In July 2005, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 591, amending the Stop and Stay Stopped law.
Oregon Walks and the City of Portland worked together to identify amendments to the law that were acceptable to both parties and then jointly supported amendments at the State Legislature. Oregon Walks requested that the original reference to “marked and unmarked crosswalks” be retained in the new bill. Retaining this language clarifies and reinforces the fact that both marked and unmarked intersections are legal crosswalks. In exchange for increased enforcement and public education about the law, Oregon Walks was willing to accept the City of Portland’s proposal to reduce how long drivers must remain stopped for pedestrians when vehicles are stopped at a red light. In these instances, drivers must remain stopped when a pedestrian is in the lane in front of them plus six feet on either side. This amendment only applies at signalized intersections where a vehicle is stopped at a stop light and stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk in front of the vehicle before turning. In all other circumstances, drivers must still stop and remained stopped as long as a pedestrian is in the lane in front of the vehicle plus one lane on either side of the driver.
The law is further described here in a news release from the Oregon Department of Transportation.
(Photo credit: BikePortland)