West Seattle “crosswalk sting”: Stop for pedestrians, or else

Thanks to Kevin for that photo from the crosswalk at California/Dawson (by Rite-Aid, south of The Junction) where several people tell us there was quite the police emphasis this afternoon. This is the same spot where a 92-year-old pedestrian was hit and killed last September. Kevin reports:

Here are a couple of pictures I got of a significant crosswalk sting at California and Dawson, the crosswalk in front of Rite Aid on Monday 7/27.

I had stopped at Rite Aid about 4 PM and noticed what was going on when I came back to my car.

They had about two patrol cars, four or five motorcycles, and two undercover cops. acting as pedestrians. Male and female decoy. Quite an elaborate setup! I even managed to help catch one vehicle myself as I grabbed a flag and stepped into the intersection on my way to talk to the cops! Too bad they did not stop for the flag. :( The officers I talked to said that people on the receiving end get more upset than speeders when ticketed.

There were evidently enough folks milling around watching that they decided to move their act further north and start in again fresh. They must have stopped at least a dozen cars during the time I was there. … You might want to empathize what the cops told me, in that you are REQUIRED to STOP if the pedestrian has STEPPED into the street. I suspect a lot of folks are not sure about the exact definition.

I should add that the decoys did not use the cross walk flags – which is more than fair since few intersections have them. I USED a flag and they went after the one that did not stop for me.

Before anyone considers an indignant comment – police have told us that reporting on “stings” like this – whether they’re pulling over speeders or patrolling school zones – is not seen as a hindrance to them; they would rather people just obey the law in the first place, and if a report about a sting gets them to do that, all the better. Meantime, we’ll try to find out how many tickets were issued. (Thanks also to Richard for his note about this via Facebook — find us there at facebook.com/westseattleblog — including the line: “The heat brings out The Heat!”)

28 Replies to "West Seattle "crosswalk sting": Stop for pedestrians, or else"

  • Travis Bickle July 27, 2009 (6:51 pm)

    This is about the dumbest waste of taxpayer $$$ i’ve seen in a LONG time….Its easy money…gotta fill those quotas!…Why not find the guy that held me up at gunpoint….lazy.

  • christopherboffoli July 27, 2009 (7:01 pm)

    I think it is fantastic they are doing this. Too many people don’t stop for pedestrians.

  • Kevin July 27, 2009 (7:45 pm)

    Try… just try and cross 35th Ave SW some evening around 5 – 6 PM and see if anyone will stop for you even when you are in the middle of the street.

    Very few people will stop for a pedestrian along 35th. This type of emphasis patrol is well justified.

  • CMP July 27, 2009 (7:48 pm)

    Hopefully they won’t catch me jaywalking since I live one building south of this intersection!

  • marlene July 27, 2009 (8:33 pm)

    I think this is great, as I’m sure the relatives of the 92-year-old killed last year do. Anything to make drivers more aware of pedestrians can’t hurt.

  • J July 27, 2009 (9:08 pm)

    Hurray! I love you, Seattle Police!

  • J July 27, 2009 (9:14 pm)

    It was at the corner just north of this intersection that I stopped for a pedestrian who appeared to almost be stepping into the street (I wasn’t sure, so I erred on the side of caution) and was rear-ended by the car behind me, and she was rear-ended by the car behind her. Better that than hit a pedestrian, though. Our cars were damaged, but nobody was hurt….

    So when you’re a pedestrian, please remember it’s helpful to make your intentions clear.

  • Love to walk July 27, 2009 (10:46 pm)

    Have to agree with Kevin on this one — crossing most major streets is difficult. Fauntleroy basically requires you to wave your arms wildly to get anyone to let you cross. The patrol is needed.

  • mike July 27, 2009 (11:14 pm)

    While I like the idea of this, exactly how fast do you have to react. For example if you are two feet away from the crosswalk and someone jumps onto the street do you skid to a stop? What exactly is the rule.

  • Adam July 28, 2009 (12:16 am)

    This is why real cities don’t use uncontrolled crosswalks – drivers should be looking at the road, and not tentatively at the sidewalk (or trying to see through the parked SUV with tinted windows) hoping that pedestrians don’t legally jump into the street.

    The fact that uncontrolled crosswalks use the same markings as traffic lights only adds to the confusion. They give pedestrians an unreasonable feeling of safety, and Seattle has some of the dumbest pedestrians I’ve ever seen. No sense of self-preservation whatsoever.

    How many police-hours is a traffic light worth? Oh wait, the tickets make the city money. Nevermind. Forget the safety of pedestrians.

    My favorite are the crosswalks that have been wired up with blinking amber LEDs in the road. I nearly killed someone the first time I saw one – I was busy wondering why the road was blinking, I couldn’t see the pedestrian through the SUV in the right lane, and the pedestrian thought that the photons would magically stop my car and didn’t wait to see if I was slowing down. I did stop in time, but was quite surprised by the situation. What does it cost to dig up and wire a road with buttons and blinking lights? Why isn’t there a red traffic light instead!?

  • M. July 28, 2009 (3:25 am)

    Good work, SPD ! I am always saddened when comments refer to the type of laws SPD should be enforcing. All laws should be obeyed,enforced, and citizens ought to keep informed of them.The city has put together a helpful brochure, available at the neighborhood Service Centers, briefly explaining pedestrian’s and driver’s rights and responsibilities.
    Next, I really hope SPD will start getting red-light and stop-sign runners !
    Please,obey the laws,people. They exist for good reason.

  • Scott July 28, 2009 (3:31 am)

    Need more tickets handed out to jaywalkers, this is REALLY a problem downtown… crossing right in the middle of the street with on-coming traffic like they own the road: hint – NOT WHEN THE LIGHT IS GREEN FOR TRAFFIC.

  • ann July 28, 2009 (7:46 am)

    I agree with Adam. This crosswalk scares me. I got yelled at for not stopping for a woman trying to cross here once. She was behind a huge truck and you couldn’t see her until right on top of the crosswalk. Sure I could have slammed on my brakes, but then I would have been rear-ended.

    I was recently in cities where it’s just not the norm to stop for pedestrians and it was kind of refreshing both as a driver and a walker to not expect cars to stop. You cross the street when it’s clear.

  • Adam July 28, 2009 (8:07 am)


    All laws should be obeyed,enforced, and citizens ought to keep informed of them.

    I’ll print up some OBEY posters if you want. What time should we schedule the 60 second hate?

  • the dawgs July 28, 2009 (8:46 am)

    Myabe they should try the crosswalk on 44th and Othello St.

  • D July 28, 2009 (8:58 am)

    I too would like to know the answer to Mike’s question. Also what happens if you’re in the intersection and someone starts crossing? Am I supposed to stop in the middle of the intersection? Are the police then going to ticket me for that?

  • Wendy B July 28, 2009 (9:06 am)

    After someone was killed in a crosswalk near my bus stop I took the time to learn the rules, both for pedestrians and motorists. Such as when the hand starts flashing don’t start walking this gives the intersection time to clear of pedestrians and allow right and left turns on the green light. When you are driving remember that you are also at times a pedestrian, and when you are walking if you ever drive be considerate and obey pedestrian laws.

  • star 55 July 28, 2009 (9:07 am)

    Cops can’t win, damn if the do damn if they don’t. Quit b…. about them and follow the rules of the road. I love that fact that they were there. Still hoping for flags at major crosswalks in the junction, rumor they are coming but nothing yet.

  • Mike&Kate July 28, 2009 (9:28 am)

    Keep up the good work SPD! Seattle drivers need to be reminded that there are people who are not behind the wheel, talking on their cell phones. There are those of us who choose to walk together and talk to each other. Slow down and keep your eyes on the road or, better yet, take the bus. Or walk – give it a try – you might enjoy it, too.

  • KBear July 28, 2009 (10:06 am)

    The answer to Mike’s question is, it is against the law for pedestrians to step in front of a car when it has no reasonable chance of coming to a safe stop.

  • Dan\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'a July 28, 2009 (10:12 am)

    Ann & J,
    People rear ending you is not the fault of your stopping for a pedestrian, or the fault of the person trying to cross, it is the fault of the people behind you following too close behind you.
    People need to get off their phones, slow down and keep a safe distance AS WELL AS STOP FOR PEDESTRIANS.

    I have nearly been hit several times trying to cross Beach drive. It is quite scary sometimes to even try to walk my dogs along there.


  • austin July 28, 2009 (10:23 am)

    Good to see the police out serving and protecting. Hopefully this will shock some of the car-cattle into paying attention to something outside of their car for once.

  • dawsonct July 28, 2009 (10:27 am)

    I love these “experts” who KNOW that Seattle is the only location in the world that does (X) the way we do, in this case uncontrolled crosswalks! Please!! I bet IF you have ever visited another city or region of the country/world that you didn’t do a survey of a cities crosswalks, unless you are some kind of freak, so please don’t put yourself out there as some sort of authority on other city’s traffic laws and infrastructure.
    I’ve crossed streets in Europe, Canada, and Mexico on crosswalks without traffic lights (uncontrolled crosswalk?), so what the hell are you talking about?
    As for those accusing pedestrians of jumping into traffic at this particular crosswalk, 3 of the 4 sides of the crosswalk NEVER have cars parked to block it, and the NW side has signage to keep a car from parking close enough to truly block line-of-sight for the Southbound Cal Ave driver. Stop making excuses for unobservant drivers, they shouldn’t be pardoned for their incompetence.

  • n July 28, 2009 (11:06 am)

    My xhusband stopped for a pedestrian at this crosswalk & was rear ended (the lady behind him was on her cell). He was cited for the accident because he drives without insurance (dumb!!). His el camino was totalled. At least the pedrestian was ok.

  • Adam July 28, 2009 (4:08 pm)

    Is there any value in reporting the tags of cars who fail to stop or can the police only catch people in the act?

  • SM July 29, 2009 (9:40 pm)

    As a pedestrian in West Seattle, I say THANK GOD they are doing this. I feel like I am taking my life into my hands EVERY DAY just walking up and down Fauntleroy & California. I would say every day if not more than once, I am almost hit by a car. It’s like people driving in West Seattle have NO IDEA that there are actually people WALKING on the streets and crossing them. I feel like a goddamn unicorn-with a target on my back.

  • bb July 30, 2009 (9:06 pm)

    i really dont understand the Hubbub. Like many ive lived in many cities, from NY to Seattle. In all cities except for Seattle you cross at corners or at crosswalks (most have signals too) The problem with the Riteaid crosswalk is that from what i see at about 4pm everyday when I drive through there, is that people park on the riteaid side and cross outside the crosswalk area to get to the DMV/tag center, far from the crosswalk. In NY if you jaywalk and get hit, you are at fault. People here do need to look before they cross, the law wont protect them from a driver not paying attention. the cops should be ticketing BOTH jaywalkers and drivers.

  • Chron August 11, 2009 (8:45 am)

    What truly matters in the end is checking for traffic both ways. Every elementary school student knows that, check left, check right, then check left again. 10 points if you wander out in the street on your cellphone oblivious to the fact that yes, you do live in a city.

Sorry, comment time is over.