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Crosswalk safety bill might be gutted, pedestrian advocate says

crosswalk by Ed YourdonA proposed state law designed to fix that problem we all have, staring forlornly leftward as we wait to cross the street at a marked or unmarked crosswalk, has unexpectedly tripped up.

"There is an attempt underway to take the ‘crosswalk safety’ part out of the Crosswalk Safety Bill," Willamette Pedestrian Coalition Director Steph Routh wrote in an email Saturday.

The measure, SB 424-A, would clarify that people on foot at a street corner have the right of way as soon as they physically start to cross, rather than after they’re in harm’s way.

Some want this bill, which already passed the Senate, to lose this passage, leaving only a comparatively minor detail that would let firefighters hold an annual "Fill-a-Boot" fundraiser, raising money in crosswalks.

Steph RouthThe Fill-a-Boot fundraiser is a shoo-in. (So to speak.) The pedestrian law isn’t. Understandably, Routh wants the two to stay together, and in any case wants them both to pass. Her group is hoping to find people willing to carpool to Salem Tuesday to show support for the full bill.

"You needn’t testify," Routh writes; "having many people in the room may very well be crucial."

She also invites emails to the House Judiciary Committee. (See below for addresses.)

Here’s our short backgrounder on the bill, which on May 5 passed the Senate, 17-12, with two Republican votes. Here’s The Oregonian’s. Finally, Routh’s email to WPC supporters follows.

Hi All,
(Sorry if you get this more than once!)

As you may know, the WPC is currently working on passing the Crosswalk Safety Bill (SB 424-A), which would clearly define when a pedestrian is “crossing the roadway” and therefore given the legal right of way to cross. Once any part of the pedestrian’s body, wheelchair, cane, or crutch moves onto the roadway with the intent to proceed, the responsibility for a motorist to stop would be triggered.
Here is the audio recording from Thursday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, if you would like to hear some powerful and heartfelt testimony:
http://www.leg.state.or.us/listn/archive/archive.2011s/HJUD-201105261220.ram
We’re not done yet!

While I would love nothing more than to say we emerged victorious yesterday at the House Judiciary Committee hearing, we are still perilously close to having the crosswalk part of the Bill deleted from the proposed legislation. Yup, you heard me correctly. There is an attempt underway to take the "crosswalk safety" part out of the Crosswalk Safety Bill. We need your help to keep the heat on in order to make our hard work advocating for pedestrians in the legislature to pay off.
Two things you can do to help pass the Crosswalk Safety Bill intact:
1. Join us on Tuesday afternoon, 5/31 in Salem

Come and lend your support of the Bill by showing up and making your presence and your support known. You needn’t testify; having many people in the room may very well be crucial. Can’t come but know people who live in Salem and care? Please let them know!
Kindly RSVP if you can make it (steph@wpcwalks.org; 503.223.1597), and let me know if you need transport/carpool help. If we can get at least 30 people together, we can have a rally at 12:00pm before the 1:00pm hearing. Bring yourself and your friends!

Date:  Tuesday-May 31

Time:  1:00 P.M.

Room: 343

Public Hearing and Possible Work Session

SB 424 A
CARRIED OVER FROM THE 5/26/2011 AGENDA: Clarifies that pedestrian is crossing roadway in crosswalk when any part or extension of pedestrian’s body moves onto roadway with intent to proceed.

2. Email the Committee
Email the House Judiciary Committee (rep.jeffbarker@state.or.us, rep.waynekrieger@state.or.us, rep.chrisgarrett@state.or.us,rep.wallyhicks@state.or.us, rep.marynolan@state.or.us, rep.andyolson@state.or.usrep.mikeschaufler@state.or.us, rep.carolyntomei@state.or.us,rep.mattwand@state.or.us, rep.genewhisnant@state.or.us) and urge them (respectfully!) not to delete us from our Bill. An email might include something like the following:

Subject: Support for SB 424-A: Please Don’t Delete Us!
Dear Co-Chairs Barker and Krieger and Members of the Committee,
My name is [your name and residence or pertinent information]. I am writing today in strong support of the Crosswalk Safety Bill (SB 424-A) and to urge you to keep the bill intact.
We need clear crosswalk laws that state how a person shows his or her intent to cross the street. The Crosswalk Safety Bill (SB 424-A) will improve safety for all road users and would provide clear language to help educate people on crosswalk laws. Please do not delete this important clarifying language from the bill!
Under the current law (ORS 811.028 and ORS 811.035), a person must "proceed" or "cross" the street before their right to cross is activated. People correctly interpret current law when they place their entire body in front of oncoming traffic in an effort to make the motorists stop.
SB 424-A clearly defines when a pedestrian is “crossing the roadway” and therefore given the legal right of way to cross. Once any part of the pedestrian’s body, wheelchair, cane, or crutch moves onto the roadway with the intent to proceed, the responsibility for a motorist to stop would be triggered.
SB 424-A would provide older adults, parents walking with children, and people who use a wheelchair, walker, or other assistive device with the ability to enter into the roadway only once oncoming traffic has actually stopped (rather than trying to stop it by “proceeding” or “crossing”).
Thank you for the opportunity to share my concerns. I would appreciate a reply from you describing your position on SB 424-A in its current form.
Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Again, thank you for all your work so far! Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts.
Hope to see you soon,
steph

(Creative Commons crosswalk photo by Ed Yourdon. A previous version of this post misstated the nature of the proposed amendment; it’s now corrected.)

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