Crosswalk courtesy can create confusion

I simply can't understand Medford's crosswalk laws! I was driving in downtown the other day when I saw someone on the curb who appeared to be ready to step into the crosswalk.

I stopped to allow her to cross, but instead of crossing, she waved me by. I responded by waving her across, which is what the law allows pedestrian to do at a crosswalk. After about 10 seconds of this, cars began to line up behind me. I became frustrated and drove through the crosswalk.

Could I be cited for driving through a crosswalk with a pedestrian waiting on the curb? Isn't it the pedestrian's responsibility to follow the law and cross the road in that moment?

— Shelby V., Medford

First of all, Shelby, thanks for being a courteous driver and waiting for the pedestrian to cross the road in a safe manner.

However, you were not required to stop at that crosswalk, according to Medford police Sgt. Don Lane.

The law says that you are required to stop at a crosswalk when the pedestrian has entered the marked area.

This means the pedestrian has to put a foot into the road to show that she is planning to use the crosswalk, Lane said.

"The pedestrian has to physically occupy the crosswalk for you to stop," Lane said. "This usually means the pedestrian will place a foot in the crosswalk."

If a pedestrian remains on the curb, even though she is at the entrance of the crosswalk, you can proceed through as a driver.

But there is a caveat, Lane said.

"If a car stops at a crosswalk, you have to stop at all times," Lane said. "Even if the pedestrian remains on the curb, you must stop if another car is stopped to wait for the pedestrian to cross."

This is a safety issue, Lane said, because a driver might not see a pedestrian in front of another car.

"The stopped car might see someone you don't, and that's why they stopped," Lane said. "It could get frustrating if the person is still on the curb, but it's safer to stop with the other cars and wait."

Also, it the pedestrian's responsibility to wait until it is safe to put a foot in the crosswalk, Lane said.

"They just can't walk into the road with a car coming 10 feet away," Lane said. "Pedestrians have to practice safety crossing the road."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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