There has been are rash of injuries to peds and bikers, and even death, on the streets of Bloomington recently. I’ve been very concerned about this in that over the years many of my friends have been hurt, and at times I’ve come close. In every instance of person/car collisions, the car always wins. Many folks don’t understand they are driving a deadly weapon, and many peds and bikers don’t see the danger of a ton of steel moving at 30 mph, it’s just everyday life for most of us.
This week the IDS ran a three part series about pedestrian and bike safety on campus. The links are above, I was quoted in the second 2 articles. I’ve been communicating with officials at both the university and the city, and IMHO, up till now, there has been a failure to communicate.
The university has been defending a policy that discourages the use of painted crosswalks, I’ve been defending the opposite position. They claim that the IC (Indiana Code) is not sufficient to protect pedestrians, and to quote Larry MacIntyre in the IDS on Sept 11: “MacIntyre said, however, that under Indiana law, students do not have the right-of-way at crosswalks. He said cars only have to stop at crosswalks with flashing yellow lights.”
This was so egregous a claim that I wrote him a series of emails trying to point out the errors in his logic. He cited IUPD and John Applegate as the source for his interpretation of the laws,and it has been claimed that city police and Public Works were on board with this regressive interpretation. I’ve copied the relevant code below, what do you think? Do peds have right-of-way while in a marked (or unmarked) crosswalk?
IC 9-21-8-36 says it all, and few from IU have acknowledged its relevance, or that it even exists.
Sec. 36. Except as provided in IC 9-21-17-8, when traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation, a person who drives a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if necessary to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching closely from the opposite half of the roadway. As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.9.
This next one is written a bit backwards, It seems to be a simple anti-jaywalking provision, but it also implies that if you are in a crosswalk, you have right-of-way.
Crossing roadway at point not marked as a crosswalk; yield of right-of-way to traffic
Sec. 7. A pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
Here is the one that IU used to justify its policy, claiming that peds don’t have rights in crosswalks unless signalized. This claim makes no sense at all to me. Can you make the words below say that peds don’t have right of way in crosswalks unless they are signalized? Here is exactly what I was told:
“IC 9-21-17-2 is interpreted to mean pedestrians do not have the right of way in crosswalks unless the crosswalk is signalized (usually at an intersection). This interpretation is shared by the Director of Public Works, the Chief of the Bloomington Police, and a member of the IUPD who are all on the task force.”
This is scary as it seems the police are interpreting the law to suit policy. They must not have not read the law, to offer the words below as proof that peds don’t have right-of-way when IC 9-21-8-36 is very clear they do.
“Walk” and “don’t walk” signals
Sec. 2. Whenever special pedestrian control signals exhibiting the words “walk” or “don’t walk” are in place, the signals must indicate as follows:
(1) Flashing or steady “walk” means a pedestrian facing the signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and a person who drives a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian.
(2) Flashing or steady “don’t walk” means a pedestrian may not start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal. A pedestrian who has partially completed crossing on the “walk” signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the “don’t walk” signal is showing.
I’m waiting to hear back from a number of folks, no one from IU has yet acknowledged IC 9-21-8-36, or tried to explain it away, so it is up in the air for now. More to come!