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Lafayette Police Chief Says Pedestrians Have Rights, Too

Chief Eric Christensen hit the bricks recently for a pedestrian's-eye view of what it's like crossing the street in his town. (Video taken in Sacramento).

 

Proving he has a sense of humor as well as a deep and abiding respect for his mandate to uphold the law in town, Lafayette Police Chief Eric Christensen sojourned down to Mt. Diablo Blvd. and Moraga Road one recent commute hour and watched the game many residents call "Pedestrian Ping-Pong."

The chief's sense of humor came through in his findings from the evening, along with a new sense of mission for what he said is one of the town's most prolific problems, when he wrote about his experience in Steve Falk's City Manager's Friday.

"I sat there for a long time and watched the drivers as they approached the intersection to make their turn," the chief wrote. "It took some time, and I had to used my finest powers of deduction, but I finally recognized what the problem is. It’s the drivers."

The chief was particularly unimpressed by the number of cell phone addicts, rearward facing "stop touching your brother" drivers and those he saw actually shouting at pedestrians to "hurry up" as that red light kept them from their evening Pilates class.

"My big takeaway this week is that walking through a crosswalk shouldn’t be like a video game," the chief wrote, "and so we here in the Lafayette Police Department are going to concentrate on crosswalk violations for a while. People need to slow down, take their time, and be respectful of the pedestrians among us... so, tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell your teenage drivers: we who wear the blue uniforms are on the hunt for crosswalk law violators. And, since you asked: yes, that one motor officer will be hiding in those bushes next to the crosswalk."

Now you know. Don't say we didn't tell you. 

lisa September 17, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Tip for police. Park on Acampo St @ St Mary's and watch how many cars completely ignore the children standing at the crosswalks trying to cross the street in the mornings. I counted 12 cars speed by as three kids attempted this. Finally, a kid on a bike had to hold out his hand to help just to get someone to stop for them. I'm thinking MAJOR $$ for the City at this crosswalk alone. Maybe some flashing lights might help?
Zoe Claire September 17, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Florence @ st marys.
Jose September 17, 2012 at 11:14 PM
There are some crosswalks in Moraga that are known to be dangerous due to heedless or reckless drivers and hurry, hurry, hurry. I would like to see targeted education and enforcement in Moraga as well. Other cities have used volunteers (usually a law-enforcement officer in civies, I presume) to work with patrol officers to enforce the law, which is intended to protect pedestrians, but is clearly not followed by many. A young man was struck in Moraga Sep 11. If you need a volunteer, I am willing to put the pads on and step my toe into the street for you.
David Holden September 17, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Deer Hill and Oak Hill Road at BART commute times. In the past year, signs have been erected reminding motorists that pedestrians have the right of way, but mark my words - a pedestrian is going to get killed at that intersection. I predict it will be in the winter time when it's dark at 5pm and most commuters are heading home and crossing the street. That intersection needs a traffic light. Desperately.
Pat September 18, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Lafayette drivers are far more important than those snively-nosed pedestrians. Surely, everyone knows this. As George Orwell says in "Animal Farm," Lafayette has become home to the More Equal Pigs. I walk Happy Valley daily. I can count the times drivers have stopped when I'm waiting in the crosswalk at Happy Valley School on one hand (when the crossing guard isn't there). Apparently the law isn’t enough - nor is the bilious green reminder sign to "Stop when pedestrians are in the crosswalk." Or does the sign really mean "Stop when pedestrian is immediately in front of your car and you might damage your hood if you mow him/her down, then your pilates time (see above) will be spent taking your car in and dealing with those pesky insurance people" (Right, I know, they'll have their "people" take care of those things.)
Jodie September 18, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Three cheers for Chief Christensen!!
Tim Davis September 18, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Hi David. I have no doubt your observations about the dangers of that intersection are correct but a friendly warning about making predictions. I did the same thing last year and a young girl was seriously injured at the crossing I mentioned within HOURS. It took me a month to recover and that is nothing compared to how long she needed to recover. But I know what you are saying
Fred Wright Lopez September 19, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Thanks Chief! Appreciate your concern. I'm legally blind don't drive and walk Mt. Diablo Blvd. regularly. Even when I use a white cane Ive encountered the cell phone talkers and rolling stoppers who refuse to yield to pedestrians when light turns green. Enforcement is long over due. However given limited police resources perhaps establishing a smart phone application for reporting these and other violations (parking in disabled stall without permit) could be used in combination with enforcement combination. The new Mt Diablo street redesign with " bumpers" extending an extra foot into stree is a great idea affording a bit extra protection. Thanks! Fred Wright Lopez - 18 years Lafayette resident
KnowMatterWhat September 19, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I get around primarily via bicycle and praise the Chief for his concern and action regarding this issue. I encounter the occasional selfish or oblivious driver. I feel it's up to me to drive defensively (as if the car does not see me or will not yield to me). I utilize the Lafayette/Moraga Regional Trail often and would like to commend the abundance of conscientious drivers who go out of their way to stop when I'm crossing St. Marys Rd @ Florence Dr. Thanks! It's much appreciated.

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