Looking both ways
Operation Crosswalk isnt about enforcement, its about education.
Thats why the Baker City Police Department isnt keeping it a secret: five times, from April through September, officers from the department will be sending decoy pedestrians into crosswalks and stopping drivers who fail to yield the right of way to the pedestrian.
This isnt a sting. The goal isnt to write a bunch of tickets and fatten city coffers.
In fact, police are quite willing to tell you where and when the exercise will take place.
Why? In hopes of improving driver awareness of their responsibilities where pedestrians are involved.
It is a subject that deserves your attention. In our experience, most drivers stop diligently for pedestrians in crosswalks more likely out of small town courtesy, we suspect, than a fidelity to the law of the land.
But the law makes it clear that at every intersection, regardless of the condition of the paint on the road, there exists a crosswalk. Add one or more human bodies to that crosswalk and it becomes, in effect, a stop sign.
Drivers have a responsibility to maintain a speed which will allow for safe stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk (the posted speed limit should do the trick).
If the car ahead of you stops and you are driving on a two-lane road like Main Street, fight the urge to swing into the other lane and pass the stopped car. Approach with caution the other vehicle more than likely has good cause to stop. And passing a car that has stopped for a pedestrian isnt just illegal, its dangerous.
Pedestrians, in turn, have a responsibility not only to visibly signal their intent to use the crosswalk, but to use the crosswalk.
Simply loitering on a corner doesnt tell a driver you want to cross the street. Standing in the crosswalk and looking both ways does.
And jaywalking fouls up the whole arrangement, even if there is no traffic to speak of. Take the extra time to walk to the nearest corner and cross safely, because drivers arent necessarily watching for pedestrians mid-block.
Were glad to see Operation Crosswalk take hold in Baker City, and so should you.
After all, the pedestrian you are stopping for might be someones son or daughter, or elderly mother, or a tourist visiting our town, or a businessperson looking for a new home for his or her factory.
So relax, slow down and stop for pedestrians.
Baker City isnt the kind of place anyone should be in too big a rush to show common courtesy and concern for safety.