Last week's death of Southern Oregon University student Gladys Jimenez, who was struck by a vehicle on Siskiyou Boulevard and Garfield Street, has left many unclear about Oregon's crosswalk laws.

The laws indicate responsibility for both pedestrians and drivers.

At least two laws govern pedestrians' responsibility and could result in a $97 fine if violated: failing to obey traffic control devices at intersections and crosswalks and failing to yield to a vehicle.

Ashland police officer Steve MacLennan set out orange cones Wednesday along crosswalks by SOU so pedestrians could gauge how far 113 feet is, the distance it would take a vehicle traveling 30 mph to stop if a pedestrian stepped into a crosswalk.

"If a pedestrian steps out and there is less than 113 feet from an approaching vehicle, they are in violation of the law and could be cited $97 for failure to yield," he said.

MacLennan said one of the biggest safety problems Ashland faces is that pedestrians sees a vehicle traveling 30 mph and think that the vehicle will be able to stop in time.

He said during the reaction time, from the moment a driver sees a pedestrian step into a crosswalk and mentally recognizes that they need to stop, the vehicle has already traveled nearly 66 feet.

"Then it takes another 46 feet until the vehicle stops completely," said MacLennan.

He said it would be safer for pedestrians to wait at the entrance of the crosswalk until both lanes of traffic have stopped.

"If you're have trouble seeing whether the vehicle in the second lane has stopped, stay in front of the stopped car and peer around it before you step into that second lane," said MacLennan.

Reports indicate that Jimenez was talking on a cell phone when she was struck by the vehicle.

MacLennan said, "If people want to talk on their cell phones while crossing the street, fine &

just look and be aware before you cross. But I personally wouldn't cross four lanes of traffic while I was on a cell phone."

Driver duties

In Oregon, a crosswalk exists at an intersection whether it's marked with paint or not. A crosswalk only exists mid-block if it is marked.

Oregon law says a driver turning at a traffic signal must stop and remain stopped for pedestrians until they have cleared the lane their vehicle is turning into and at least six feet of the next lane.

At other crosswalks, state law requires drivers to stop and remain stopped until pedestrians have cleared the lane which the driver is traveling and the next lane. If a vehicle is in a middle lane, that buffer area for pedestrians could include up to three lanes.

Drivers are also required to stop for students as long as directed by a crossing guard and must stop for a blind pedestrian until they have safely crossed the entire roadway.

Failure to observe these laws could result in a $242 fine.

Reach reporter at 482-3456 x226 or .

— a local bicycle safety course offers valuable information for motor vehicle drivers, and pedestrians in addition to bicycle enthusiasts.

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Bicyclists participated in an event Friday evening known as "Critical Mass" to draw attention to traffic problems in Ashland and promote biking.

Photo by Thom Larkin | Daily Tidings