Taking it to the streets: Redmond police officers enforce law for vehicles to stop for pedestrians
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
September 26, 2012 · 9:59 AM
The streets surrounding Redmond Square shopping center are rarely empty.With 30 businesses occupying its five buildings — located in the heart of downtown Redmond between 164th and 166th avenues northeast from Redmond Way to Cleveland Street — it's not uncommon to see cars and pedestrians sharing the road. But the high volume of traffic also presents a high risk of vehicle-pedestrian collisions.
Amanda Spohnholtz knows this from firsthand experience.
As an employee at Asante Salon in downtown Redmond, she crosses Cleveland Street on a regular basis. The salon is located at 16528 Cleveland St., Suite D, on the north side of Cleveland Street, but she and other building employees are required to park in the Redmond Square parking lot across the street.
Spohnholtz said on more than one occasion, a car has sped around her as she made her way to or from work. As a result of these experiences, she now thinks twice as a driver when she approaches a crosswalk.
"You definitely pay attention," she said about looking for pedestrians.
Rod Mash, practice manager of Animal Emergency Hospital of Redmond at 16421 Cleveland St., also has stories about vehicles not yielding for him as he made his way across Cleveland Street, including a few times in which he'd almost been hit.
Spohnholtz and Mash are not the only ones who have had close calls, which is why the entire traffic unit of the Redmond Police Department (RPD) spent Sept. 18 and 25 enforcing RCW 46.61.235 at the crosswalk on Cleveland Street between 164th and 166th avenues northeast.
The code states a vehicle must "stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning."
For example, RPD traffic officer Sande English said on a two-lane road such as Cleveland Street, drivers must remain stopped until the pedestrian has walked from curb to curb. On a three-lane road with a center left-turn lane, she said the pedestrian must be out of the driver's lane and reach the other side of the center lane before the driver can proceed.
While drivers must be prepared to stop for pedestrians, RPD community outreach facilitator Jim Bove said it is also "important for pedestrians to remember that they have a role, as well, in their safety." He said this means paying attention to what's going on around you, adding that it's best to make eye contact with drivers so you know it's safe to cross.
In addition, RCW 46.61.235 states pedestrians and cyclists shall not "suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or otherwise move into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop."
MORE ATTENTION NEEDED
To enforce the code on Tuesday, RPD traffic lieutenant Doug Kruger spent two hours dressed in plain clothes crossing the crosswalk on Cleveland Street. As he crossed, English would spot cars making violations and report them to the traffic officers who were patrolling Cleveland Street in two cars and on two motorcycles and would pull over offenders.
In those two hours, RPD pulled over 29 vehicles. They pulled over 29 cars during their two-hour enforcement window on Sept. 18, as well — about a third of these also included cell-phone violations.
English said she was only reporting "the most egregious violations" so only a few drivers received a warning. Most received the $124 citation for their moving violation.
During Tuesday's enforcement, there were several times when Kruger almost got hit as cars wouldn't even slow down as he entered their lanes.
"I don't think they realize how close they are (to me)," Kruger said.
Bove, who was the undercover pedestrian the first week, also encountered inattentive drivers during his stint.
"It was an eye opener how often people don't pay attention," he said.
Bove said while he was the pedestrian, he had to stop mid crosswalk while a record eight vehicles drove through without stopping for him.
Spohnholtz saw this happen and wasn't surprised.
"That happens all the time," she said.
A SAFER NEIGHBORHOOD
Both Spohnholtz and Mash said they approved of the RPD's extra enforcement in the last two weeks.
"It's nice," Spohnholtz said.
They're not the only ones.
Bove said during their first enforcement period last week, they had a number of Redmond Square businesses thank them for doing it, including one man who told them he has almost been hit by a car several times.Bove said the RPD does this type of enforcement occasionally at various locations including school zones, depending on where they receive complaints. He said the goal of the enforcement is to educate people and keep everyone — drivers and pedestrians — safe.
"That is our No. 1 priority," he said.
BY THE NUMBERS
13 pedestrian-involved collisions
25 bicycle-involved collisions
• 2012 (through July 31):
10 pedestrian-involved collisions (this includes one fatality)
16 bicycle-involved collisions
Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at email@example.com or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.