Crosswalk responsibilities

crosswalk1More today on the recent Mammoth Crosswalk and pedestrian sting by Mammoth Police. Commenters on our website agree that crossing Highway 203 or Main St. in Mammoth Lakes is hazardous. Police Chief Dan Watson said dialogue about the issue and public awareness does make a difference.

Chief Watson said he had participated in a number of pedestrian safety operations down South. The Chief said, “One reason we do them is to get the word out to the public. When someone gets a citation,” he said, “they drive more safely over a period of time.” The Chief said pedestrians need to pay attention too.

crosswalk2Crosswalks at the Fire Station and the Post Office come with hazards. In the winter, the marked crosswalks are sometimes obscured by snow and grime. But there is a flashing, yellow light that pedestrians can activate. The lights do not require the driver to stop but signal them to slow down.

The Chief said it is true pedestrians have the right of way once they step off the curb. The Chief himself was one of the pedestrian walkers. He said that a high percentage of drivers yielded to pedestrians. Chief Watson added that while pedestrians have the right of way, they also have an obligation to look at the driver of passing cars to see if they notice the person about to cross the street.

Chief Watson echoed previous statements by Caltrans that marked crosswalks can also give pedestrians a false sense of confidence and the inclination to just walk out into a crosswalk without looking. Both drivers and pedestrians really have to pay attention.

One of our website commenters had complained that the eastbound flashing light at the post office was not working. Chief Watson said he would follow up with Public Works.

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8 Responses to Crosswalk responsibilities

  1. sean April 4, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Where I used to work the department did this same operation many times a year. We usually had about 1 to 3 people killed each year in crosswalks (in a city of about 200,000). More people usually died in traffic accidents than were murdered.

    The funny part was the traffic Sgt would put on a big red Santa Claus suit and walk back and forth in the more dangerous crosswalks. People still failed to yield to him every few minutes. It was amazing to watch.

  2. ferdinand lopez April 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    where i came from,if you step in front of a car,you get hit ,only in california do pedestrians challenge the odvious,cars will kill you

  3. sierragrl April 4, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    I’d love it if Chief Watson would also clarify for drivers that all intersections (streets, not driveways) have two cross walks at them, one on each side of the intersection (you could say four crosswalks including the two to cross the intersecting street). It does not matter if they are marked or not, the crosswalk exists and if a pedestrian is waiting to cross the street (they don’t have to enter it first) then cars are required to stop. Ideally the pedestrian is facing the street and able to make eye contact with the driver before stepping off the curb.

    I sincerely believe that many drivers do not understand this fact and nothing in these articles has illuminated this point. It is not ‘Jay walking’ to cross at these locations, as some people seem to think.

    Ironically, Caltrans believes UNMARKED crosswalks to be safer then marked ones. It apparently has something to do with pedestrian behavior. Pedestrians cross at unmarked crosswalks in a much more cautious manner. I prefer the marked ones and wish we had more of them!

    • Dan Watson April 4, 2013 at 11:17 am #

      Sierragrl is correct. There is an unmarked crosswalk at every intersection and the pedestrian has the right-of-way unless the intersection is controlled by signal devices. And, your comment about CalTrans and unmarked crosswalks is correct. Pedestrians are more cautious at unmarked crosswalks because they don’t have what the believe is the security of a marked crosswalk when in fact a marked crosswalk provides no more security. Pedestrians should always use caution when crossing a street under any circumstances, and drivers need to pay attention to pedestrians, particularly at intersections.

      • sierragrl April 4, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

        Thank you Chief!

  4. Big Rick OBrien April 3, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    Pedestrians with their faces buried in their freakin’ phones, walking down the street is almost as dangerous as drivers doing the same thing. Same deal with their earbuds…absolutely NO CLUE to what’s going on around them.

  5. J. Ritter April 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    Just to reiterate, I believe there is a light out on both east and westbound facing crosswalk lights near the post office.

  6. ferdinand lopez April 3, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    cars always have the right of way,they can kill you


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