Category Archives: Pedestrians

Crosswalks and Safety Islands

The Oregon definition of a crosswalk has not changed since its present parameters were created in 1975, and its definition includes, among other guidelines, “any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere that is distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or markings on the surface of the roadway.” Keep in mind, though, while jaywalking is prohibited in the state of Oregon, current law requires drivers to stop and yield while pedestrians in crosswalks cross against the “don’t walk” signal of a traffic control device.

The responsibility of motorists in reference to pedestrians moving within a crosswalk is evident; however, pedestrians also have their own responsibility and “may not dart into the street in front of a motor vehicle that is close enough as to constitute an immediate hazard.” Although the pedestrian right of way is initiated as soon as the pedestrian steps off the curb into the crosswalk, it goes without saying that both the motorist and the pedestrian must exercise judgment and rational precaution when approaching any crosswalk. Also, it helps to keep in mind that when approaching motorists stop, vehicles overtaking in other lanes and moving in the same direction, are required by law to “follow the example and stop, too.”

On the other hand, when it comes to “safety islands,” Oregon states a driver does not need to stop on “a roadway with a safety island, if the driver is proceeding along the half of the roadway on the far side of the safety island from the pedestrian.” The safety island is best described as a resting spot, a safe zone, for pedestrians attempting to cross busy roadways. Although traffic on the opposite side does of the roadway does not have to stop, traffic on the side of the pedestrian is required to view a pedestrian on a safety island as a signal to stop, a good to know detail when legally necessary.

Out of any point throughout the past seventy years, right now Oregon state law provides the greatest amount of pedestrian crosswalk protection; even the definition of the word “crosswalk” has been improved upon, expanded, and made more definitive, thus reforming previous restrictions. No matter what or where, it always pays to keep in mind how local rules vary across the board and are not published widely, especially rules requiring pedestrians to cross roadways at crosswalks only. Such local laws can ultimately set a legal trap for unassuming pedestrians, so be aware and be knowledgeable of your rights.

What is a Pedestrian and the Vulnerable User Law?

The state of Oregon defines a pedestrian as “any person afoot or in a wheelchair,” which includes anyone from walkers, runners, and highway workers, to skateboarders and bicyclists. Oregon law permits pedestrians to cross the road at any point; however, local rules have the ability to make pedestrians rights somewhat unclear, as is the case in Portland, where pedestrians must use a crosswalk if one is available within 150 feet. If pedestrians are unaware of their rights and the rules which apply to them, a violation may entail potential legal traps or harsh penalties.

No state has ever used the Vulnerable Roadway User concept as a legal term, but members of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance wanted it instated for the protection of vulnerable user groups, such as the ones reducing energy consumption and pollution, while also improving their own health and fitness. Used in Europe by planners and safety organizations, the Vulnerable Roadway User Law applies to and protects people walking, running, using bicycles, farm tractors, skateboards, roller skates, roller blades, or scooters on the roadway. Before it was passed, Oregon state law provided only minor consequences for careless driving that seriously injures pedestrians or other non-motorized roadway users. Now, with the Vulnerable Roadway User Law in full effect, reckless drivers suffer enhanced penalties. Depending on the situation, the law mandates either community service and driver-improvement education, or a substantial fine and a mandatory one-year license suspension.

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