MLPD cite drivers in pedestrian safety operation

mainstreetmammoth** NEWS  RELEASE **


On Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30 the Mammoth Lakes Police Department conducted a pedestrian safety operation on Main Street as a result of numerous complaints received from the public about drivers not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks.  Plain clothes employees and volunteers entered the crosswalks at the Post Office and Fire station after activating the pedestrian warning lights.  While the large majority of drivers yielded to the pedestrians, those that didn’t were cited or warned for California Vehicle Code section 21950(a) which requires a motorist to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.  They were only stopped if they were close to the pedestrian in the crosswalk and posed a threat.

Two MLPD officers worked this detail on Friday and one MLPD officer and one CHP officer worked it on Saturday.  The operation lasted for approximately 6 hours over the two days and 16 people were cited and 13 were advised.

The officers were contacted by several passers-by who were aware of what was occurring who expressed appreciation for the efforts to improve pedestrian safety.

Police Chief Dan Watson said, “We did this as a result of many complaints officers and I have received about how dangerous it is to cross the street, especially Main Street.  Our hope is that drivers will be more aware and on the lookout for pedestrians in the roadway.  Most of our streets don’t have sidewalks and it’s even more important to be aware of pedestrians while driving in Mammoth.”

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65 Responses to MLPD cite drivers in pedestrian safety operation

  1. Wayne Deja April 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    Trouble…What do you want to happen…For the tourists to come here thinking they can break the laws on their way to Mammoth Lakes ?…You should clean up some traffic accident scenes on HWY.395…well over 60% of them are tourists on their way to Mammoth….and usually the victims of THEIR accidents are locals that happen to be in THEIR way.

  2. Trouble April 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    What the hell, we’re already world famous for our speed traps. This ought to help bring more tourist.

  3. Curious April 2, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Who received a citation and who received a warning?

    Wouldn’t a uniformed reserve officer standing at the crosswalk be just as effective educational tool?

    Some communities use crossing flags held by the pedestrian to bring attention to their intentions and stockpiled on each end of the crosswalk. Are we trying to solve a problem?

    The main street improvement plan might consider enclosed walking bridges along with the touted gondolas. 🙂

    • Big Rick OBrien April 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

      Reserve officers are NOT crossing guards…

      • Curious April 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

        Reading comprehension is NOT one of your strengths?

  4. Frank April 2, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    If you can’t stop for pedestrians, whether in a crosswalk or not, you shouldn’t be driving. MLPD should continue pounding traffic violators until they get the message.

  5. Big AL April 1, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

    Recently I was in the Bay area, in Palo Alto, and a couple other cities, I saw some interesting pedestrian crosswalk treatments, that really grab your attention. There was a well defined transverse line at the pedestrian crossing with a row of recessed yellow lights in the pavement, that flashed when the pedestrian pushed the button to cross, these were at signaled intersections and mid block crossings. The same can be applied to a signalized crosswalk activated the lighting controllers. Overhead flashers can be installed as well. Crosswalk safety has come a long way in the last 10 years, but it people have to be aware.

  6. Big AL April 1, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    A few years ago, I was driving through Bishop in my old flat bed Dodge P U, when I was southbound approaching the cross walk near Perry Motors, I was looking at the cross walk, I did not see anyone on either side, I then called my attention to something in my rear view mirror.

    As I was looking in the rear view mirror, and approaching the cross walk, out of the corner of my eye, I was alerted to a person moving in front of me. It was John one pf the salesmen at Perry’s. He had a habit of just walking right out across the cross walk, thinking that people were going to stop for him, and he seemed to delight in just taking the right of way and surprising people. I had seen him do this once before to someone else, and other people related same incidents with him.

    When I realized he was in front of me .. I hit the brakes to stop, I was not in a full panic brake mode, I had time to stop safely. But one of my rear brakes locked up and skidded a lil bit. John just about jumped out of his shoes, of course. And gave me a dirty look.

    It scared the crap out of him .. and rightfully so. If I had not been paying attention to the peripheral vision, I would have most likely hit him. I don’t think I ever saw him do this again.

    The thing is that some pedestrians .. and motorists alike get distracted, or feel they have the right of way and damn the other.

    You have to be on the ball .. vigilant in being aware of pedestrians … and traffic when in areas of pedestrian traffic.

  7. Ken Warner April 1, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    I hope my posts didn’t give the impression that I think it’s all the fault of the pedestrian. It’s not all their fault. It’s a two sided issue. Drivers here drive too fast and are not courteous and pedestrians are often a little careless.

    Amber warning lights don’t have the “authority” on drivers that a stop light has. People — pedestrians and drivers — want to push the envelope if they feel they can get away with it. Stoplights are more forceful and demand proper response. It’s drilled into us many times a day. Amber caution lights are too weak and easy to rationalize a non-compliant response.

    Mammoth Lakes is not the sleepy old town it used to be. Traffic control needs to be contemporary with current traffic. And that means more stop lights. That’s not a bad thing. They can facilitate traffic flow. They take the guesswork out of daily driving around town.

  8. J. Ritter April 1, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Chief Watson, thank you for doing this and please don’t make it just a one-time thing. I was just leaving the post office and saw a mini van speed by a pedestrian and his dog in the middle of the crosswalk. The pedestrian had to stop in the middle of Main St. to allow the speeding car to pass him before continuing across the road. And this is just 2 days after the recent safety operation.

    Anyone who uses this crosswalk regularly (like myself) knows how treacherous it is.

    On another note, I don’t know if it’s been fixed yet, but one of the lights on the crosswalk signal (the light used to warn eastbound drivers that a pedestrian is in the crosswalk) has been out for most of the winter.

    • Desert Tortoise April 1, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

      How can any half way rational human being dislike J Ritter’s comment? Amazing, and deeply troubling.

      • Unhappy Boomers April 2, 2013 at 6:31 am #

        Desert Tortoise –
        There are many people (some make their way onto blogs like this) whose lives are so negative, and are so unhappy about … everything, that they’d give a “thumbs-down” to life itself.
        I hate to say this, but it’s becoming rare to see a smiling “boomer” nowadays.
        There are many reasons for their unhappiness and most of it they cause themselves.

        • Big AL April 2, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

          Big smiles for ya there unhappy boomer!

      • Ken Warner April 2, 2013 at 8:06 am #

        Ha!. One time I posted:
        “The Sun rises in the East and sets in the West.”

        And got half thumbs down. Figure that out….

        • Thumbs down to everything April 2, 2013 at 11:40 am #

          Non-empirical studies show there is a direct correlation between older Americans who frequently listen to talk-radio programming and clinical depression.
          If you’ve ever taken the time to listen to these programs, you can clearly see why this is sadly true.
          Such unbridled negativity.
          Buckskin attorney and author Jerry Spence, says this about the #1 talk-radio host, Rush Limbaugh – “A people-hater adored by people-haters.”
          Unfortunately, there is nothing anybody can do to offer assistance to our “Right is right!” friends, neighbors and countryment to pull themselves out of the negative quagmire they are so deeply ensconced in.

          • Big AL April 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

            I think the same goes for people who always seem to harp on that same subject of talk radio programs. I don’t never listen to them .. most of them are crap .. no matter which way they lean, you’re right there Dr. I don’t know if any of them are any good, they usually slant the subject matter to fit their agendas.

        • Big AL April 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

          Just like now Ken I just gave ya a thumbs up .. you were behind 2 to 1 lol.

    • J. Ritter April 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

      I should add that I just noticed one of the warning lights on the westbound crosswalk signals on Main St. by the post office is out, as well.

  9. Joe April 1, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Pedestrian warning lights are needed in Bishop, especially at the crosswalk in front of Joseph’s and Union Bank. I’ve witnessed several near-misses over the past 3 years and I’m afraid it’s just a matter of time before someone gets it.

  10. Tom O. April 1, 2013 at 7:18 am #

    Awareness? hardly. More like common way to raise quick cash for a broke police dept. How about ticketing all the idiots that drive 50mph on Main St. on the way to the ski area? The two violations go hand in hand.

    • Pissed April 1, 2013 at 9:56 am #

      Great, who picked the pre holiday dates when all the money spending tourists are in town.

      Are you trying to drive them away

      Police Stings!

      • Desert Tortoise April 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

        Um, does anyone moderate some of the cyber names used here? Just asking …….

        • Big AL April 1, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

          Yours included Tortoise?

    • Big AL April 1, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

      Umm Tom .. The money brought in for these types of police activities does not go to the police department directly. It goes into the local govts. first.

      These things do bring awareness for locals to some degree, and not really to the visitors so much. The awareness is only temporary, as people pretty much forget after a period of time. Although locals seem to be on the look out for peds because they are in their community. It’s always seems to me .. it’s the visitors that that violate the peds, more than locals.

      The other fault is peds, not being aware of traffic and or just having the feeling they have the guaranteed right of way as chief Watson stated. People have to remember it is always motorists violating the right of way.

      I am not a big fan of these types of operations, as I feel they are only a temporary sense of awareness. Some how awareness needs to be raised, other than these operations. I think we need to spend more time with driver’s education, more awareness of this and other subjects on driving tests as well, with refresher tests, instead of just renewing a person’s license through the mail.

  11. John April 1, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    Thanks Chief,
    I use those crosswalks and have also seen a lot of near misses. The key to using them safely is to keep your eyes open and be ready to run like hell. Keep up the good work.

  12. Desert Tortoise April 1, 2013 at 4:52 am #

    School busses with flashing red lights are another place motorists are required to stop to allow the kids to cross. The busses even have a little stop sign with a flashing rad light that swings out from the left side telling you to stop. I have had occasions where I have stopped for a school bus with it’s red lights on and cars behind me honk their horn to move. Otherwise well adjusted people get behind the wheel and turn into something entirely different.

    • Big AL April 1, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

      You’re right Tortoise .. impatient drivers!

  13. Big Rick OBrien April 1, 2013 at 3:29 am #

    In Laguna Beach, the PD does this every year at Christmas time with an officer dressed in a bright red Santa suit and the people STILL almost run him down…

  14. salblaster March 31, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

    where else can you post a ? and get a response from the chief of police, I love this web site. great job benett kessler. I’ve also noticed those radar speed display signs that tell your own speed slow traffic down as good as if a cop car were sitting there.

  15. cl March 31, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    Good thing to do. I wonder if it really has any lasting effects though. Agree on the stop.light comment . The Village would be aother good spot.

    The girl that was helping could be spotted a mile away as an “pedestrian actress” a little less grinning at the cops parked at the PO & I may have not caught on as to what was going on.

  16. EK March 31, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    I am glad the police are finally doing something.
    What I do not get is why there is no pedestrian “Walk” sign that they can see. You just cannot see that it is ok to start walking, nor are you aware the light is timing out.

    Go figure.

    • Ken Warner April 1, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      I’ve thought the same thing and also wondered about it. The only indicator is a couple of LEDs on the button poste. Easy to miss. And no real connection to the lights which sometimes don’t work.

  17. Sierra Lady March 31, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Wish you all were there to cite the near-miss I had this past Friday afternoon. I was driving to the P.O. heading west on Main Street signaling to make my right turn there. I observed a man carrying his little girl crossing in the crosswalk (he had not activated the ped warning lights) so I waited before turning. A maroon-colored mini van came up fast on my bumper and quickly swerved around me to continue traveling west nearly hitting the man and his daughter! When I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw what the driver of the mini van was about to do I stuck my hand out my open window to flag him to stop, but he just blew through the cross walk. Upon passing and moving back into the right-hand lane the driver must have looked in his rear view mirror and saw I was still stopped and the man and daughter were just finishing crossing…THEN that driver hit his brakes and slowed down.

    Thank you Chief Watson and the MLPD for keeping an eye on this very unsafe area of Main Street. When ever I’m a pedestrian there I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands.

    B. Richter

    • Spacey visitor pedestrians April 1, 2013 at 5:45 am #

      At some intersections when making a right, you become paranoid when some of our visitors (who can get a bit spacey) jump the gun and don’t wait for the crossing sign and figuring you are a nice guy, can see them, and out of courtesy, let them cross against the signal.
      Close calls like this happen all the time.

    • Main & Minaret Mess April 1, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      Ever been around Main & Minaret during a Jazz Festival or Bluesapallooza?
      People drinking and trying to negotiate crosswalks while cars turning love to cut corners.
      An accident waiting to happen.

  18. John P. March 31, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    Far too often pedestrians in our communities abuse the crosswalks and think that paint will stop a car from running them over. However, I often see pedestrians dart out in front of cars that have very little chance of stopping in time due to physics. Chief Watson, have you thought about doing a sting for pedestrians causing irrational crossings? Let’s not forget about the rest of this vehicle code section. By the way, I have two friends that had these citations thrown out of court because the vehicle code is so nebulous on this issue. The section of the vehicle code goes on to state:

    (b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

    (c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.

    (d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

    • Dan Watson March 31, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

      I’m well aware of subsection b which requires the pedestrian to use due care. The pedestrians, and I was one of them on Friday, are advised not to step off in front a a car without giving adequate time for the driver to stop. The pedestrians stepped off the curb well before the vehicle arrived. And I agree that pedestrians sometimes create the problem by believing that the presence of a crosswalk guarantees them safety. It doesn’t and pedestrians should be advised to make eye contact with approaching drivers to make sure the driver sees them. Safety goes both ways. As for conducting a sting for pedestrians, I don’t know how you could do that. In my experience most, but no all, vehicle versus pedestrian collisions are the fault of the driver.

      Another section often ignored is 21951 of the Vehicle Code which requires a driver to stop at a crosswalk if there is another vehicle already stopped. The vehicle that’s stopped could have a child or a person in a wheelchair crossing in front of them. Several years ago I was at the scene of a near-fatal crash where a UPS vehicle was stopped in the number 2 lane for a pedestrian. A driver in the number 1 lane assumed the UPS truck was stopped for a delivery and struck a pedestrian crossing in front of the truck.

      And, as Benett posted, these operations are common practice. The purpose is to educate the public of the need to be aware of pedestrians.

      • Piper March 31, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

        I will say that I appreciate Chief Watson responding to posts on this website. If the MPD has the time to conduct these types of stings, then apparently the really didn’t suffer too badly from the cuts imposed by the Town council. It appears that the Department is right sized.

        • Shell game April 1, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

          Piper –
          Are you really MMM in disguise?
          You remember MMM. She’s the person who convinced the Town Council to give Dave Wilbrecht to boot because she is the person to turn the town’s economy around by hiring an expensive “economic genius” (I thought SHE was that “genius” ?) What’s that she proposed? A car dealership will to the trick?
          Be careful town employees (police department included) I know a hatchet man/woman when I see one.

      • Trouble April 1, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

        Chief Watson- I do admire your response here and your actions may well bring attention to what is truly a problem. How about asking the city council to get off their butts and address this issue? They might listen to you.

        • Lower the speed limit April 2, 2013 at 6:26 am #

          Lower the speed limit to 25 for the entire town (we locals are used to it) ticket the crap out of the Down-Southers (who freak out going that slow).

      • sierragrl April 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

        If they really wanted to do a sting, they need only have people cross at unmarked crosswalks. Vehicles have the same obligation to stop for pedestrians regardless of markings. At Sierra Street where Angels is, its a legal crosswalk, but its hard to get cars to stop for you since its not marked.

      • Wayne Deja April 1, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

        Back in 1964,when I was 10 years old,on a trip to Santa Monica to visit my Grandparents,a vehicle stopped at a cross-walk for a pedestrian,we were behind that vehicle…another car in the other lane kept going,without stopping,hit the pedestrian and killed him…49 years ago,and still can see it like it was yesterday.

    • Wayne Deja April 1, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

      How does someone “abuse” a crosswalk ?

  19. Wayne Deja March 31, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    ….Wish they’d do the same thing on HWY. 395 in downtown Lone Pine…

  20. Ken Warner March 31, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Both places need a stop light. Those are busy intersections. Why CalTrans won’t install stop lights is a mystery to me.

    The blinking caution lights are barely visible sometimes and pedestrians can be hard to see or predict. Sometimes they just dart out into traffic. It’s a just another mess that keeps being not dealt with.

    • Desert Tortoise April 1, 2013 at 4:48 am #

      Why? Too hard to pay attention for pedestrians and yield when they wish to cross the road?

    • Trouble April 1, 2013 at 5:33 am #

      Well said Ken, fix the real problem, instead of making the insurance companies wealthier.

      • An Observation April 1, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

        Trouble –

        I respectfully can’t help but notice how often your bitching sessions focus on so-and-so making too much money… and how such-and-such government employees makes too much money… and how company XYZ is making too much money…

        Just curious.

        Have you not lived within your means? Have you not put something away for that rainy day? Has your property depreciated lately? Is there anything you are not pissed off about?

        • Big AL April 1, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

          You’re wrong Observation, in this case.

  21. Trouble March 31, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    Talk about being set up for a fall. Cheap trick in my book.

    • Benett Kessler March 31, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      Common practice by many police departments to raise awareness of pedestrians. Motorists sometimes do not remember there are crosswalks
      and people who want to use them.

      • Trouble March 31, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

        Boy Scouts with a ticket book!

        • Benett Kessler March 31, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

          So, I guess your first and middle name is Trouble!


          • Trouble March 31, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

            My first name is Double.

          • Big AL April 1, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

            LOL Trouble I was guna say Double Trouble .. hehe

        • Teaparty Tom April 1, 2013 at 5:32 am #

          Atta boy, Trouble.
          Always question authority.
          Real Americans do.
          We’re sick and tired of being told what to do.
          Why should my tax dollars pay for cops’ salaries?

          • Trouble April 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

            The only thing authority offered my generation was a free ticket to Vietnam.

          • Tiredofthenonsense April 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

            Dear idiot,

            Please- when you are in trouble, get in an accident have something stolen, etc… Do not for whatever reason call the Police Officers you so negatively speak about. Do not allow them to waste their time on someone as ridiculous as you.

            You are tired of being told what to do… Then go somewhere else where there are no rules… Have fun finding that place…

    • Reality Check March 31, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

      What would be your solution to this ongoing problem Trouble?

      • Trouble April 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

        Put up better signs and lights. It’s not like these people are trying to get hit or hit someone. Otherwise they’ll be doing these same silly stings next year. I bet they have better things to do. At least I hope so.

        • Desert Tortoise April 1, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

          Price a traffic signal sometime. They are emphatically not inexpensive things to erect.

        • Reality Check April 1, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

          It is out of the control of the town. This is a state highway. CalTrans has already said they would not allow a stop light.

          • Big AL April 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

            It still belongs to the state but the town has taken over a lot of items of concern, they eventually will have full control of the highway, making it a town road, when the state relinquishes it to them. I wonder how the town will be able to handle that?

        • Big AL April 1, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

          Trouble … pedestrian signs and crosswalks have improved very much in the last 10 years or so. You were on the right track .. with your comment about these people are not like trying to get hit or hot someone.

          The key is awareness on the drivers part and the pedestrians part.

          but there is still a lot of room for improvement in high lighting the crosswalks. There are tons of treatments out there. It just depends on the municipalities … whether or not they choose to make these further improvements.

          It doesn’t need to be an added signal, it can be added and improved warning devices. Also .. what the federal highway administration allows for use. The FHWA controls all traffic control devices used on all highways, roads and streets. but there are several approved that can be chosen from.

          As I sad before .. Awareness of the people involved, they must know how to act, and act accordingly, otherwise stuff happens.


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