Every corner is a crosswalk. And, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists have a shared responsibility for safety. Regardless of who is legally in the right, a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian can take place in an instant but have consequences that last a lifetime.
Know and follow the crosswalk law. Did you know that, in addition to marked crosswalks in Eugene, all intersections (except those specifically prohibiting pedestrian crossings) are considered crosswalks—even if there are no white lines marked. According to Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS 811.028), drivers must yield to pedestrians in any crosswalk, whether it is marked or unmarked. Motorists must come to a complete stop and remain stopped until the pedestrian has cleared the motorist’s lane and the adjacent lane. When making a turn at a traffic light, drivers may proceed after the pedestrian has advanced 6 feet into the adjacent lane. According to ORS 811.035 (3), a pedestrian is considered to be “crossing the roadway in a crosswalk” when any part or extension of the pedestrian, including but not limited to any part of the pedestrian’s body, wheelchair, cane, crutch or bicycle, moves onto the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed.
Do the math to be safe. Before turning at a crosswalk with a signal it’s 1 + 6’ – your lane plus 6 feet. Stop for the pedestrian, who must clear the lane into which the vehicle is turning plus 6 feet beyond that lane, before you proceed. At any other crosswalk it’s 1 + 1 – your lane plus the next lane. Stop for the pedestrian, who must clear the lane in which the vehicle is traveling or turning plus the next lane, before you proceed.
Drivers who follow these rules will be better equipped to make the correct decision when faced with a pedestrian who is crossing the road in front of them. Drivers must come to a complete stop and remain stopped until a pedestrian clears the required distance from the vehicle’s lane of travel. This law applies not only in marked crosswalks but also at any intersection where pedestrians are permitted to cross.
Pedestrians must also follow the law when crossing roadways. The law requires pedestrians to obey traffic control devices that are in place to specifically direct their movements (for example, it is a citable violation to cross an intersection against a “don’t walk” signal). Pedestrians who choose to cross a street at a location other than a crosswalk must do so at a 90-degree angle (such crossings are not a recommended practice, but are legal in Eugene). This ensures the pedestrian will cross the street in the most direct and expeditious manner.
Use caution. The bottom line for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians: When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Here are more safety-related tips for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists:
Defensive walking. Pedestrians should walk defensively and not take unnecessary risks. If you’re not sure whether it’s safe to cross a street, or not sure whether a driver sees you, wait. Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you and will stop. Watch for turning and passing vehicles. Make yourself visible to drivers (stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars and other obstacles before crossing), cross is well-lit areas at night and wear bright-colored or reflective clothing. Avoid dangerous and distracted behaviors (don’t cross mid-block, remove headphones and stay off cell phones while crossing, if intoxicated, don’t walk without help – a cab ride home is safer.
Defensive biking. Bicyclists must generally follow the same rules as cars, and should exercise extra caution in any case where they might be overlooked by a driver crossing their path.
Defensive driving. Drivers should watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists, and give them enough room to avoid a crash if the other person does something unexpected. Put away cell phones, food and makeup, never pass or drive around a vehicle stopped for pedestrians, scan the road and sides of the road ahead for pedestrians.