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Pedestrians have right of way at all intersections

I know you get a lot of questions about crosswalk rules and safety in Medford, but so far I haven’t seen this one answered. It’s about people crossing Fourth Street in front of the bandshell at the commons in downtown Medford. I regularly drive past there when people are crossing the street between the two intersections. Am I required to stop for them?

— Mary, email submission

That section of streets, intersections and non-intersections is a place that really highlights all the nuances of Medford’s pedestrian street-crossing rules, Mary.

First, those people crossing where Bartlett Street crosses Fourth Street are at a crosswalk, so they have the right of way and you are required to yield to them, says Medford police Cpl. Tom Venables.

Even if the intersection isn’t painted or if it’s a three-way intersection, that’s still a legal intersection and motorists are required to yield to pedestrians, Venables says.

The only time when pedestrians don’t have the right of way is when they are crossing a street between intersections, Venables says.

Oregon law requires vehicles to stop if a pedestrian is walking in your lane or an adjacent lane. It also prohibits passing a stopped vehicle at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection if that vehicle is stopped to permit someone crossing the street. Violations carry a base fine of $265, so it literally pays off to pay attention to pedestrians at every crosswalk.

Incidentally, not all intersections are painted for a reason, Venables says.

Studies show that more pedestrians get hit inside crosswalks than outside them, Venables says. That’s why some of those paint-jobs are left to fade, but the city does keep up the marking of crosswalks in school zones, he says.

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 youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.