The in basket: The proper response by a driver to a pedestrian trying to cross the street is a subject that I’ve pondered for many a year.
The fact that the law requires something of a driver that I, when a pedestrian, don’t necessarily want helped propel my curiosity.
By that I mean that quite often I prefer to wait for a car to pass before starting across, because if there are no cars behind that one, I can cross at leisure, rather than hurrying across to minimize the driver’s delay. But the law usually requires him or her to stop if I’m poised at the curb.
In time, I have come to know that any intersection is a crosswalk, whether striped as one or not, and a driver is required to stop for anyone walking across the street.
But as I watched people stepping into a crosswalk on the other side of a multi-lane road or street, I came to wonder if I have to stop immediately.
The law says, “The operator of an approaching vehicle shall 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.”
So on a three- or four-lane street or road, is it legal to wait until the pedestrian steps into the lane closest to the one I’m in. Can I proceed even though the pedestrian is in the crosswalk, but more than a lane away from mine?
The out basket: I asked Police Chief Geoff Marti in Port Orchard, Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police and Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol here, and they agree that that is the logical meaning of the law.
So when I approach that crosswalk in downtown Port Orchard with the pedestrian activated flashing lights in the crosswalk, for example, and the walker is on the opposite curb, can I proceed until he or she is stepping into the center lane, I asked Geoff.
“Yes, that would be my interpretation,:” he replied.
The same is true if the pedestrian has crossed in front of you from your side of the street. You must wait only until he or she is leaving the intervening lane before proceeding.
Pete and Russ concurred.
In real life, of course, not stopping before you legally have to may intimidate a pedestrian into not starting across, especially if there is no protective island in the middle. As a matter of consideration, it still might be best to stop when the walker enters the street, no matter now wide, but you don’t have to if there is one or more lanes between you.