I received a discouraging email from a reader who says a motorcycle cop in Lake Forest Park spent his July 4 stopping cyclists who entered the trail crosswalks after the pedestrian signal countdown had started. Not because the light was red or the signal had a solid “Don’t Walk,” but because it was blinking when they entered. You know, the way any normal person would treat a crosswalk signal: If I can get across before the light changes, then it is ok.
Meanwhile, Independence Day is one of the biggest days for drunk driving and the most dangerous day of the year for teen drivers.
Here’s reader Steve’s note:
I had an experience today on the BG Trail that you guys might want to look into – a motorcycle cop stopping cyclists for crossing NE 171st Street and NE Ballinger Way during the countdown phase of the walk/don’t walk signal.
I’ve always understood the law to be that it’s legal to enter an intersection on the yellow phase of a signal if there’s sufficient time to clear the intersection, but the cop insisted that you cannot enter a crosswalk once the countdown has begun.
Either way, it seem like an odd thing to focus limited law enforcement resources on – especially with DUIs being a big problem on July 4.
From my understanding of the law (correct me if I’m wrong), the officer is technically correct. When you are biking in a crosswalk, you assume all rights and responsibilities of pedestrians in a crosswalk under Washington’s traffic laws. And the law states that it is illegal to begin crossing the street once the pedestrian signal has started blinking or counting down. Those already in the crosswalk should complete their journey, but no new crossings should start. So technically, this would also apply to someone on a bike.
But if this happened the way Steve describes it, this is ridiculous. So long as you complete your crossing before the lights change, it’s impossible to imagine how crossing during the countdown phase could ever harm anyone. The countdown is timed for people walking, not biking. And even most people walking will also enter the crosswalk once the signal starts blinking if they think they can make it across before the light changes.
But the real point is that it is crazy for any traffic enforcement to be wasted on something like this on a day when intoxicated driving poses a very real and deadly risk to every person on our roads.
Redmond officer reprimanded for telling cyclist he couldn’t video
In other area police/cycling news, Redmond Police Officer Bill Corson was reprimanded for telling a Seattle’s Stephen Kent he could be arrested for video recording their interaction during a traffic stop.
Redmond Patch reports that Kent was pulled over for “impeding traffic” while biking with a couple friends. When he started recording the incident, the officer threatened him with arrest if he continued.
Here’s the video:
Redmond police chief Ron Gibson explained the law to Patch:
“The Redmond Police Department recognizes that citizens may record or photograph police activities in public as long as they remain at a reasonable distance, don’t interfere with the employee’s duties and responsibilities, and do not create a safety concern for the employee, person detained, or other persons,” Gibson wrote. “The Redmond Police Department acknowledges the public has a right to record the activities of their police and that we are subject to public scrutiny as we carry out our duties to the citizens of Redmond.”